Food scraps or waste that contains or has come into contact with meat or meat products is known as 'swill' or 'prohibited pig feed'. Scraps have been traditionally fed to pigs in many parts of the world - but the feeding of some types of waste to pigs could introduce a deadly risk to Australia's livestock industries.
The feeding or supply of swill to pigs is illegal in all states and territories in Australia. More information about swill and swill feeding can be found on the DPIPWE website:
Swill and Restricted Animal Materials Feeding.
Prohibition of the feeding of swill to pigs has long been important to prevent foot and mouth disease (FMD) entering or spreading in Australia. Pigs infected with FMD then produce a massive amount of virus which can infect other animals. It is thought that the FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001 was caused by a producer feeding imported meat scraps to pigs. For more information, see
Foot and Mouth Disease.
There is an important and increasing risk of other diseases being introduced or spread by swill feeding. African swine fever (ASF) was reported for the first time in multiple sites in China in 2018, and has subsequently spread to most countries of southeast Asia. Most recently, African swine fever has been found in East Timor and Papua New Guinea, close to Australia’s northern shore.
ASF and classical swine fever (CSF, also known as hog cholera) are highly contagious viral diseases of pigs. The two diseases appear clinically similar in the field, requiring a laboratory test for diagnosis, but are caused by completely unrelated viruses.
The diseases spread through infected pigs, or contact with contaminated pens, trucks or clothing. Pigs can remain carriers of both diseases for long periods.
ASF and CSF viruses can survive for long periods in processed, refrigerated or frozen meats. Most of the international spread of ASF has been associated with the swill feeding of garbage from international airports or seaports. The feeding of illegally imported meat to pigs is the most likely way that one of these diseases could enter Australia.
You can reduce the risk of your pigs catching FMD or swine fever by:
Food Waste - Recycling
Food waste is a growing problem in Australia with millions of tonnes of food discarded in landfill annually. Increased community interest in local food recycling includes the suggestion that more waste could be used to feed animals. What could go wrong?
The following factsheets contain important information about the dangers of feeding food waste to pigs and other ruminant livestock, how you can manage the risk, and what you should do if your pig shows signs of disease:
- your private vet - see Tasmanian Veterinary Register
Emergency Animal Disease Hotline 1800 675 888 (24/7)
- DPIPWE Animal Disease Enquiries - details below: