Pigs: a step-by-step guide to sampling and post-mortem

Page last updated: Thursday, 26 March 2020 - 6:29pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has created a sampling and post-mortem guide to assist veterinarians investigating pig disease. 

You can download a PDF copy from the Documents link on this page, or WA veterinarians can request a laminated hard copy by emailing livestockbiosecurity@dpird.wa.gov.au. 

A guide to sampling and post-mortem of pigs

Equipment required:

  • standard post-mortem kit including boning and skinning knives, scissors, scalpel blades, forceps
  • large shears or pruning secateurs to cut through ribs and jaw, bone saw
  • shears or small axe and hammer for brain removal
  • dry swabs, swabs in media (viral transport media, Amies media/charcoal), specimen jars for individual
  • fresh samples, 10% formalin, large containers for pooled formalin fixed samples
  • personal protection equipment – overalls, gloves, mask, eye protection
  • laboratory submission forms, permanent markers.

Sampling guidelines:

  • The base sample list is not exhaustive – consider submitting any other samples that may be useful (i.e. feed, water etc) and any lesions or abnormalities.
  • Fresh and fixed samples of any discrete lesions should also be submitted.
  • Consider sampling cohort animals (i.e. blood, faeces, swabs).
  • Complete a submission form to submit with samples. Tape to the outside of the esky/box of samples. Submissions forms and detailed packaging instructions are available on agric.wa.gov.au.
  • Consider sending photographs or videos to the DPIRD laboratory at DDLS@dpird.wa.gov.au .

Contact the DPIRD laboratory on (08) 9368 3351 prior to submission if you suspect a reportable, zoonotic or exotic disease.

Base sample list – pigs

Ante-mortem samples

Post-mortem samples



  • Lithium heparin
  • Clotted
  • EDTA (+ smears)


Swabs of discharges etc

Lymph nodes
Brain (swab or small section of cortex)
Stomach contents
(submitted whole)
Lymph nodes
Small and large intestine
Skeletal muscle
  • Chill bloods;
    consider spinning and separating serum and
    clot for transport.
  • Do not send sharps.
  • For swabs use the
    appropriate media
    then chill:
    • Amies or charcoal
      for bacteria
    • viral transport media for viruses and PCR
    • dry swabs (as a last resort) +/- a small drop of
      sterile saline for PCR.
  • Special media (e.g. Mycoplasma media) available on request.

Collect a 3x3cm piece of tissue and 
store in a sterile
container / sample pot.

Refrigerate or chill – DO NOT freeze.

Pool tissues into 10% neutral
buffered formalin
at a ratio of
10 parts formalin
to 1 part tissue.

Keep at room

Seal containers and package well to
avoid spills.



Contact information

Livestock Biosecurity