Laws against supplying and feeding prohibited feed to pigs (swill)

Legislation in all Australian states and territories, including Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014, outlaws feeding prohibited feed for pigs and poultry (swill) to pigs. This applies to all pigs, including pet pigs and pigs owned by hobby farmers. Penalties for swill feeding include fines and imprisonment.

Prohibited feed for pigs (swill) may contain viruses that cause serious diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever that can be passed on to pigs fed swill. For this reason, swill must not be fed to pigs.

This guide for pig owners and food outlets explains what you can and can't feed to pigs.

Prohibited feed for pigs (swill)

Prohibited feed for pigs (swill) is material that:

  • contains, or may contain, the carcass of a mammal or bird
  • contains, or may contain, material derived from a mammal or bird (including meat, eggs, blood, faeces)
  • has been in contact with either of these (including food or food scraps from a restaurant, hotel or home that may have been in contact with meat or meat products or other material derived from a mammal or bird).

Some exceptions are permitted. Animal materials that are not prohibited pig feed and can be legally fed to pigs are:

Food that must not be fed to pigs

Household, supermarket, commercial or industrial waste, including restaurant food, butcher shop waste and bakery waste, could contain banned items (i.e. prohibited pig feed).

Do not feed these foods to pigs:

  • table scraps that contain meat or meat products
  • meat pies
  • sausage rolls
  • pizza
  • bacon and cheese rolls
  • Caesar salad with bacon pieces
  • deli meats
  • eggs
  • milk or milk products not of Australian origin (unless imported as feed for livestock)
  • untreated used cooking oils and fats
  • anything that has been in contact with the above through collection, storage or transport in contaminated containers (such as meat trays or takeaway food containers).

Food that can be fed to pigs

Legally, you can feed pigs:

  • milk or milk products of Australian origin or legally imported into Australia as feed for livestock
  • bakery or vegetable scraps that do not contain, and have had no contact with, eggs, meat or meat products
  • fruit, vegetables and cereals
  • meals made from meat, blood or bone that have been purchased from a reputable produce store or feed merchant (look for feed produced by an accredited feed supplier under a quality assurance program such as FeedSafe®)
  • rendered animal fat and treated cooking oils in accordance with Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014.

Remember, it is best to only feed your pigs commercially available pig feed.

Risks of feeding prohibited pig feed (swill)

Prohibited pig feed (swill) can contain a range of harmful viruses that could cause foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) or African swine fever (ASF). Some viruses can remain viable in food even after chilling, freezing or inadequate cooking.

FMD is a serious, highly contagious disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals, including:

  • livestock such as cattle, pigs, sheep and goats
  • deer
  • camelids such as alpacas, llamas and camels.

Swill feeding is believed to have caused the devastating 2001 outbreak of FMD in the United Kingdom, where more than 6 million animals were destroyed in eradicating the disease.

Australia is currently free from FMD, but the disease is present in some nearby countries. The most likely way for the virus to enter Australia would be through illegally imported meat and dairy products.

FMD can cause major production losses and trade impacts. A large multi-state outbreak has been estimated to cost the national economy around $80 billion in revenue losses over 10 years.

Prohibited pig feed can also contain other significant viruses not currently found in Australia.

Learn more about the dangers of feeding prohibited feed to pigs in this short FMD video.

Transcript of video

Responsible disposal of food waste

Businesses that prepare and sell food have a responsibility to dispose of food waste safely.

Food waste considered prohibited pig feed should be placed in an appropriate waste bin for collection and disposal.

Learn more about responsible disposal of food waste in this short FMD video.

Transcript of video

Report the feeding of prohibited feed to pigs or possible disease

Contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 if you suspect that:

  • prohibited pig feed (swill) is being supplied to pig owners
  • pigs are being fed swill
  • you see pigs showing any clinical signs of FMD or African swine fever (ASF).

Suspected cases of FMD or ASF can also be reported to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

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