Pig feed: what you can and can’t feed pigs (swill)

Page last updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2019 - 2:32pm

Some pig owners may not be aware that feeding meat and meat products to pigs is illegal in Australia because it could introduce devastating diseases to pigs and other livestock. This applies to all types of pigs including pet pigs.

Foods or food scraps/food waste that contain or have come into contact with meat or meat products are known as 'prohibited pig feed' or 'swill'. 

Biosecurity alert for pig owners

African swine fever (ASF) 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. This disease is devastating to pigs but does not affect people.

 

Recent testing by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) on pork products seized at international airports and mail processing centres over a two-week period revealed that that six of 152 products tested were contaminated with ASF virus. This finding demonstrates the risk to Australia from ASF.

 

You can help to keep ASF out of Australia. Do not feed meat or products containing meat to pigs – this is illegal and can cause diseases including ASF.

 

Always report any unusual deaths in pigs, including feral pigs, or suspicion of ASF to to your private vet, local DPIRD vet or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on:
1800 675 888. Early detection increases our chances of eradicating the disease if it does occur here.

What is wrong with feeding food waste or scraps to pigs?

Foods that contain meat or meat products or that have had contact with meat or meat products may contain viruses that can cause severe disease in pigs, as well as providing an entry point to infect other livestock. Many viruses can survive for extended periods in meat and meat products.

All states and territories in Australia have banned swill feeding to help protect Australia’s biosecurity and enviable health status.

Examples from overseas of how swill feeding can cause disease include:

  • The devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom in 2001 is thought to have started when pigs were fed waste containing illegally imported meat products carrying the foot-and-mouth disease virus.
  • The recent spread of African swine fever throughout Europe, Russia and parts of Asia is believed to have been caused by pigs accessing food waste.

Australia is fortunate to be free of many diseases that could affect our livestock industries and trade. Feeding prohibited feed to pigs is the most likely way exotic diseases could be introduced into Australia’s livestock.

Although Australia has strict quarantine and biosecurity measures to prevent the importation of animal products from countries where these diseases are known to occur, there is still the risk that infected products may reach Australia. This is why it is vital to only feed approved feeds to pigs.

Which foods are illegal to feed to pigs?

It is illegal to feed pigs any foods that contain meat, meat products or any other products from mammals or that may have been in contact with them.

Illegal pig feeds include:

  • food scraps and wastes from:
    • kitchen scraps
    • processors and manufacturers
    • food retailers including supermarkets and bakeries
    • hotels, restaurants, cafés, fast food outlets, delicatessens, lunch bars
    • rubbish dumps
  • used cooking oil, unless it has been treated to the required standard
  • offal
  • blood, bones, carcasses from mammals.

If you don’t know whether food has been in contact with meat or meat products, you must not feed it to pigs.

What can I feed my pigs?

Pigs are omnivorous and benefit from a healthy, balanced diet.

A variety of foods are safe to feed pigs and include:

  • grains, fruits and vegetables
  • formulated commercial pig food
  • foods that have been approved for feeding to pigs in Western Australia. These are:
    • milk and milk products from Australia or legally imported into Australia for stock feed use only
    • commercially manufactured meatmeals and tallow produced according to the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Rendering of Animal Products (AS 5008:2007)
    • used cooking oil processed according to the National Standard for Recycling of Used Cooking Fats and Oils Intended for Animal Feeds and where the oil has only been used for cooking in Australia.

Responsibilities of pig owners and food suppliers

  • You must not feed prohibited pig feed (swill) to pigs or allow pigs to access it.
  • You must dispose of food that contains meat or that has had contact with meat in a way that prevents pigs from accessing it.
  • To ensure you don’t accidentally feed your pigs prohibited pig feed or expose them to chemicals or contaminants, you should obtain a vendor declaration from your feed supplier/feed ingredient supplier.
  • Businesses that knowingly supply prohibited pig food products for pigs can also be prosecuted.

Help protect Australia

To protect Australia's pigs and other livestock, you are asked to report any suspicious feeding practices to your local Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) vet or livestock biosecurity officer - see the webpage Livestock Biosecurity contacts for your nearest office.

Also report unusual signs of ill-health or unexplained deaths in your livestock to your local vet, local DPIRD vet or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline 1800 675 888.

Penalties

The requirements outlined on this webpage are prescribed in the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Agriculture Standards) Regulations 2013. Copies of the regulations are available from the Parliamentary Counsel's Office website.

Under the regulations, people may be prosecuted and fined up to $5000 for:

  • feeding prohibited pig feed to pigs
  • allowing pigs to access prohibited pig feed
  • collecting and storing prohibited pig feed for feeding to pigs
  • supplying prohibited pig feed for feeding to pigs.

Contact information

Vanessa Rushworth
+61 (0)8 9368 3076