Livestock

Pigs not up to scraps

By Country News

There was a time when feeding pigs swill was common practice, but not any more. Swill feeding is now illegal in Australia.

Agriculture Victoria chief veterinary officer Charles Milne said swill was the traditional name for any food waste containing meat or any other animal products or byproducts, apart from Australian milk byproducts, and swill feeding was supplying this food waste to pigs.

‘‘In many developing countries swill feeding is still used as a cheap source of food for pigs. However, this practice is considered to be very dangerous,’’ Dr Milne said.

‘‘Swill feeding has been shown to cause outbreaks of serious diseases overseas.

‘‘The foot and mouth disease outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001 was started by swill feeding infected material to pigs, which resulted in costing the country billions of pounds and the farming community great heartache.’’

Australia is fortunate to be free of many serious diseases of livestock such as foot and mouth disease and classical swine fever, which are called ‘exotic’ diseases as they don’t occur here.

Dr Milne said an exotic disease outbreak would severely affect the Australian livestock industries and the economy.

‘‘The act of feeding infected and illegally imported meat scraps to pigs is considered to be one of the most likely ways in which an exotic disease could be introduced into Australia.

‘‘The reason for banning swill feeding is to reduce the risk of introducing exotic animal diseases into Australia if prohibited animal products were to get past quarantine inspection.’’

Dr Milne said all food businesses responsible for preparing and selling food must not dispose of food waste in any way that would make it available for swill feeding.

‘‘Although some farmers may think that swill is a cheap and convenient source of food for pigs, it is a dangerous and illegal practice and appropriate action will be taken against those found to be feeding swill.’’

Dr Milne said pigs could be fed commercially prepared pig rations, fruit and vegetable waste from markets, grain and bread which did not contain any meat material and milk byproducts if they originated from Australia.

■For more information, contact your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer, or in NSW your Local Land Services, or go to: http://go.vic.gov.au/bHIBGk