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Swill feeding: what is it and why is it illegal?

Most people are pretty bad at keeping track of what they eat, but when it comes to our pigs we need to make sure that meat is off the menu.

While years ago many people threw their food scraps and waste to their pigs, we now know that meat and food waste that’s been in contact with it is a massive disease risk.

The term “swill feeding” gets thrown around a lot, but simply, it’s food scraps and food waste that’s been in contact with meat or meat products.

Australian Pork Limited’s Manager, Production Stewardship Dr Pat Mitchell said the rules were in place to help keep pigs and other animals healthy and disease free.

“Certain foods sourced through recycling programs can pose a risk of the introduction of certain exotic animal diseases, which have devastating impacts on our animals and rural areas.”

“Swill feeding and prohibited pig feed have a national definition across the country, so all pig farmers are playing by the same rules,” Pat said.

“But at its most basic level, pigs must not be fed or be allowed to eat meat or meat products, or anything that has been in contact with meat or meat products.

“This means food scraps, most bakery waste, waste from restaurants and untreated cooking oils and fats are off the menu for all Australian pigs.”

But at its most basic level, pigs must not be fed or be allowed to eat meat or meat products, or anything that has been in contact with meat or meat products.
Dr Pat Mitchell, Manager, Production Stewardship, Australian Pork Limited

Some food products can be fed to pigs, but they are specific exceptions and if you’re in any doubt, don’t feed food waste to your pigs.

“It can be confusing, but there are a few foods that haven’t been included in the definition of Prohibited Pig Feed,” Pat said.

“Australian milk and milk products, rendered and commercially manufactured meat meals, and other feed that has been approved in writing by the relevant state or territory authority.

“State departments of primary industries can provide guidance, but really, if you’re in doubt, leave it out.”

When purchasing feed, look for feeds that have been prepared under a quality assurance program, such as FeedSafe®. Also, request a vendor declaration from your feed supplier when you purchase feed so you have documentation to show that your pigs haven’t been fed anything contaminated with substances that may be of concern to markets for pigs.

“If you notice any unusual symptoms in your pigs, that you think could be an emergency animal disease, be on the safe side and report it immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.”

Further information

A copy of the fact sheet is available here.
For more information, contact your state or territory’s Department of Primary Industries

This article was first published in the winter edition of "Pigs N' Mud", Australian Pork Limited's newsletter for the small producer.

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