A Feast Fit for a Pig
By Linda Searle, District Veterinarian
Having a pig means different things to different people. There are large commercial piggeries, farming enterprises that have many different livestock species, including a few pigs, people who raise a salami pig or a Christmas pig each year and some people who even keep them as pets.
No matter how you keep a pig, it is important to know that in Australia there is a ban on feeding meat, meat products or anything that has been in contact with meat to pigs.
Prohibited pig feed includes such items as pies, sausage rolls, deli meats, bacon and cheese rolls and table scraps that contain or have been in contact with meat. These scraps were traditionally called ‘swill’, which is why feeding prohibited food to pigs is sometimes referred to as ‘swill feeding’.
Swill feeding has been identified as the highest risk of foot and mouth disease (FMD) entering Australia. If FMD were to enter the country, the impact would be dire, costing billions of dollars and closing export markets overnight. Pigs are particularly important, as they act as amplifier hosts, pumping out millions of virus particles. As FMD affects all cloven-hoofed animals, the infected pigs can then go on to infect nearby cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo and deer.
FMD is such a risk to our livestock industry that we have a two-tiered approach to prevent disease. We have both regulations to stop FMD-contaminated food products coming to Australia in the first place, in addition to the prohibited pig feed legislation to stop the risk of infection if contaminated products were able to get to our shores.
Swill feeding has also been recognised as a risk for bringing in other exotic vesicular disease in pigs including African swine fever, classical swine fever and swine vesicular disease.
It is important to remember that the restrictions on pig feed apply to all pigs, including pet pigs that will never be eaten and salami pigs, which are home-killed.
To make sure pig owners understand these requirements, Murray Local Land Services’ biosecurity staff visit properties that have pigs in our region every four years to audit what the pigs are fed.
Anyone with a pig, including pet pigs and single pigs destined for the freezer, needs to have a Property Identification Code (PIC), no matter the size of the property the pig is running on.
To register for a PIC, get further information on the what you can and can’t feed to pigs, or to speak to a vet about any unusual illness that you have observed in your pigs, please call Murray Local Land Services, Albury office 02 6051 2200 or Deniliquin office 03 5881 9900.