Small scale pig ownership

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Keeping pigs as pets or for production can be an extremely rewarding experience.

However there are a number of key points you will need to consider before beginning this new venture, such as any local government authority (LGA) rules and regulations, welfare obligations, animal identification and movement requirements and your reasons for keeping pigs.

Addressing these points will not only help you to be a responsible pig owner, but hopefully eliminate any potential neighbourly disputes, loss of income from sick animals and in some cases prosecution if animals are incorrectly identified.

Local government authority regulations

Before you bring pigs onto your property check first with your LGA.

All LGAs have different rules, regulations and approvals that must be adhered to when planning on keeping pigs.

If you don’t consult your LGA and obtain their approval you could risk fines and the pigs could be removed from your care.

Welfare

There are minimum standards for animal welfare when it comes to keeping pigs.

These apply to everyone, not just large producers.

The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Pigs (Third Edition) provides information on the minimum welfare requirements to ensure pigs cope well in their environment and that factors such as growth, reproductive performance, disease levels, injuries and death rates are within industry standards.

Pig identification and movement

All properties where pigs are kept will require a Property Identification Code (PIC).

This number is issued by the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA). Pigs over the age of 10 weeks must be identified with a slap brand within seven days of leaving the property. The tattoo/brand number is registered with DAFW.

Once you have a tattoo/brand number it is advisable that you have a pig striker, which is a tool for applying slap brands, made for your pigs. There are several manufacturers in Australia that make pig strikers. Once you have a PIC and tattoo/ brand number you must register with PigPass. This applies to all pigs, even pet pigs, and is free to register.

Once you have registered you can generate a PigPass National Vendor Declaration (NVD) online for free. A PigPass National Vendor Declaration (NVD) is a form that combines the waybill details with important information about the food safety and health status of the stock.

Pigs leaving or arriving at a property must be accompanied by a valid, completed waybill.

For more information on pig identification and movement requirements in Western Australia please visit the DAFWA website and search ‘pig identification’.

Reasons for keeping pigs

As a business

Keeping pigs on a small scale can offer extra income. Depending on how you run your business, there can be some lucrative markets for pork. There are several production styles that can be used for pigs.

Farrow to finish - This is where the entire production cycle from conception to sale occurs on the property. This type of operation requires a lot of patience and care, as farrowing is a difficult time for most pigs. Sows will require extra attention during this time to ensure their own health and that of the piglets is not compromised.

Grow out – Small weaners are purchased and brought onto the property to fatten before being sold. This option is much simpler and requires less skill and stockmanship. This is generally recommended as the first step in pig keeping as it will allow you to become familiar with pigs and their behaviours before managing the more complex process of mating and farrowing.

As a pet

Pigs are curious and intelligent creatures and can make wonderful companion animals. Ensure that your pet is bought from a reputable breeder. Asking to view the parents can give you an indication of how big your pig will grow.

There are many breeders who claim that they are ‘miniature’ pig breeders, however there is no breed of pig that is permitted in Australia that is a true miniature variety. Often pigs are selected to be smaller than commercial pigs but they can still grow to be quite large. When you bring your piglet home there is a risk that it will grow much larger than you were expecting - sometimes so-called mini pigs can grow well over 100kg.

Page last updated: Monday, 30 January 2017 - 12:55pm