Illegal pig feed warning for disease

Zach RelphCountryman
African swine fever poses a threat to Australia’s pigs.
Camera IconAfrican swine fever poses a threat to Australia’s pigs. Credit: Peter Maloney / DPIRD

A leading WA vet is calling on pork producers to be wary of illegal pig feeds which could heighten the State’s risk of horrendous viral disease, threatening to “decimate our pig markets”.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development chief veterinary officer Michelle Rodan warned swill feeding — feeding food scraps to pigs — could increase an African swine fever outbreak.

Feeding pigs foods containing meat or meat products is banned in Australia because viruses are able to survive for extended periods in meat and meat products. In WA, there is a maximum fine of up to $5000 for swill feeding.

Although ASF is not present in Australian domestic pig or wild boar populations, Dr Rodan said producers must be wary of feeding pigs prohibited feeds to cushion the disease risk.

“The disease would decimate our pig markets and would be difficult to eradicate once established,” she said.

“To reduce this risk, feeding pigs meat or products that contain meat or that have had contact with meat, known as prohibited pig feed or swill feeding, is illegal across Australia.

“To keep your pigs healthy, make sure they cannot access any meat or meat products, including those contained in kitchen scraps, supermarket, restaurant or bakery waste.”

ASF, which has no known cure, has spread into northern Vietnam and there is one confirmed case in Cambodia in the wake of being detected in China last August.

Every Chinese province has been infected by the deadly swine virus, wiping out more than 1 million dead pigs.

It is also present in eastern Europe, in countries including Latvia and Estonia, and is spreading west.

WA Pork Producers Association president Dawson Bradford, of Hillcroft Farms near Narrogin, said industry consultation would be influential in nullifying the ASF threat.

“WAPPA has recently participated with members of the WA pig industry in an emergency animal disease exercise coordinated by the department,” he said.

“These events play an important role in raising awareness of the issues with industry and in increasing our preparedness, along with our regular communications with our members.”

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