Protecting your pigs – and Australia – from exotic disease
6 December 2018
Once common practice, now it is illegal in Australia to feed swill to pigs.
Swill is the traditional name for any food waste containing meat or any other animal products or by-products, apart from Australian milk by-products. Swill feeding is supplying this food waste to pigs or other Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) susceptible animals.
Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Charles Milne said in many developing countries swill feeding is still used as a cheap source of food for pigs, however, the practice is very dangerous.
“Swill feeding has been shown to cause outbreaks of serious diseases overseas including FMD, and African and Classical swine fever,” Dr Milne said.
“This year China experienced a large outbreak of African swine fever and swill feeding infected foodstuff to pigs was identified as a significant factor in the outbreak.”
African swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs that can be associated with high mortality rates. Australia is fortunate to be free of many serious diseases of livestock, including exotic diseases such as African swine fever and FMD.
Dr Milne said an exotic disease outbreak would severely affect our livestock industries and the wider Australian economy.
“The act of feeding infected and illegally imported meat scraps to pigs is one of the most likely ways in which an exotic disease could be introduced into Australia,” he said.
“Regardless of whether you are a large-scale pig producer or have a pet pig in your backyard, you need to keep your animals healthy, and this includes providing them with suitable and safe food.
“Any food business responsible for preparing and selling food for human consumption must not dispose of food waste in any way that would make it available for swill feeding.
“Although it might seem a cheap and convenient source of food for pigs, it is a dangerous and illegal practice and legal action can be taken against anyone feeding swill.”
Instead, Dr Milne recommends commercially prepared pig rations, fruit and vegetable waste from markets, grain and bread that don’t contain any meat material, and milk by-products if they originate from Australia.
By being vigilant, and maintaining the highest standards, we can all play our part in protecting Australia from a devastating outbreak of exotic disease.
For further advice please contact your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer, or in NSW your Local Land Services. You can also read more at our feeding prohibited pig feed page.
Contact Name: Sarah Hetherington
Contact Number: 0409 405 639
Categorised under: Agriculture,Biosecurity