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- Feeding pigs swill containing meat or product that has come into contact with meat or meat products is illegal in Australia due to the risk that it could introduce an exotic animal disease.
- If you are unsure of what you can or can’t feed your pigs seek guidance from your state or territory Department of Primary Industries.
- If you suspect pigs are being fed prohibited pig feed or if your pigs show serious or unusual signs or behaviour, call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888
What is swill and why is it illegal to feed swill to pigs?
Swill is the traditional name for waste food fed to pigs, often as a slurry. Swill containing meat or product that has come into contact with meat or meat products is now a “prohibited pig feed”. In Australia it is illegal to feed any product classified as “prohibited pig feed” to pigs, this includes pet pigs and pigs kept on your property for your own consumption.
Feeding pigs those foods which are now prohibited is considered one of the most likely ways that an exotic animal disease such as foot and mouth disease or African swine fever could be introduced into Australia.
The impact of an exotic animal disease outbreak to our livestock industries and the Australian economy could be devastating. It has been estimated that a large scale outbreak of foot and mouth disease could cost the Australian economy approximately $50 billion over 10 years.
What food is considered prohibited pig feed?
Mammalian meat, meat products and any food that has come into contact with meat or meat products is prohibited feed and must not be fed to, or supplied for the feeding of, pigs. This includes:
- pies, sausage rolls, bacon and cheese rolls, pizza, salami and other delicatessen meats or table scraps
- household, commercial or industrial waste including restaurant food and discarded cooking oils
- anything that has been in contact with prohibited pig feed via collection, storage or transport in contaminated containers (such as meat trays and take-away food containers)
Pig owners must ensure that their pigs do not have accidental access to prohibited pig feed.
What food can be fed to pigs?
Pigs may be fed:
- milk, milk products and milk by-products of Australian origin or legally imported into Australia for stockfeed use
- dry meal made from meat, blood or bone processed by commercial hot rendering and purchased from a reputable produce store or feed merchant
- bakery food substances that do not contain, or have had contact with, meat or meat products
- fruit, vegetables and cereals
If in doubt, only feed pigs quality assured, commercially available pig feed.
Responsible disposal of food waste
Businesses that prepare and sell food e.g. restaurants, bakeries, hotels, fast food outlets, hospitals and those involved in the handling, transport and disposal of food waste need to understand their legal responsibility to dispose of this waste appropriately. Food waste that constitutes prohibited pig feed must not be disposed of in any way that would make it available for feeding to pigs.
Responsibility of the general public
Entry of exotic diseases into Australia could occur through the illegal import of prohibited animal products. Travellers should not bring animal products such as dairy products and uncanned meat into Australia. If in doubt, declare items to quarantine officers at the point of entry.
Reporting swill feeding or an exotic disease
If you suspect pigs are being fed prohibited pig feed, please contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
If your pigs show serious or unusual signs or behaviour call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
For further information
- See factsheets from Australian Pork Limited
- Visit the Animal Health Australia Website
- Information derived from Agriculture Victoria
African swine fever
- African swine fever is a viral disease of pigs that is currently not present in Australia.
- Humans can play a role in spreading African swine fever, but are not affected by the disease.
- African swine fever may be spread by the illegal feeding of swill.
- Call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 if your pigs show serious or unusual signs or behaviour.
What is African swine fever?
African swine fever (ASF) is a highly infectious viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs of all ages. An outbreak of ASF in Australia would have a significant effect on pig health and production. Mortality rates can be very high. The occurrence and spread of ASF in Australia could have a potentially devastating impact on the pork industry which is worth $1.28 billion, as well as flow on impacts to the Australian economy.
What is the risk of African swine fever entering Australia?
African swine fever is currently spreading across Europe and Asia and poses a major threat to pig-producing countries that are free of the disease, such as Australia. Recent testing of pork products seized at our international airports and mail processing centres over a two-week period found evidence of ASF virus in 6 of 152 products tested (Keeping Australia free from African Swine Fever).
How does African swine fever spread?
The virus causing ASF can enter into Australia in a variety of ways, however the most likely way for the virus to be introduced is via illegally imported pig meat or other pig products. The virus can survive cooking, smoking, drying and freezing for several months and disease could occur if a pig is exposed to infected product.
Feeding meat, meat products or anything that has been in contact with meat or meat products to pigs, including pet pigs and pigs kept on your property for your own consumption is also known as swill feeding and is against the law. Read more about swill feeding.
If a pig gets ASF by eating infected material, the disease can then spread from pig to pig through faeces, urine and other discharges or through feed, equipment, vehicles and clothing that have been contaminated with the virus.
What are the signs of African swine fever?
Signs that are seen in infected pigs can vary, but include:
- loss of/ irregular appetite
- blotchy red or black skin
- abortions and sudden death.
Further information on African swine fever disease can be found on the Australian Pork website.
People are not affected by ASF.
What can you do?
- Help to keep ASF and other exotic diseases out of Australia. Do not feed meat, meat products or anything that has come into contact with meat or meat products to pigs.
- Report any unusual deaths or behaviours in pigs, including feral pigs, to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1800 675 888.
Further information on the main exotic diseases that could affect our pig industry and biosecurity practices that can help prevent the introduction and spread of these diseases can be found on the Australian Pork Limited website.