Pigs will eat almost anything, so it's up to owners to ensure their pigs eat the right thing to avoid transmission of diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
While Australia is currently free of FMD, the Queensland Government is concerned about the threat it poses and has launched a state-wide awareness campaign to remind livestock owners and anyone who works in the industry of what to look out for and what to do if they suspect FMD.
Fact sheets, posters, stickers and magnets have been issued to pig owners and food outlets across Queensland, with information relating to the FMD virus, what swill is, why swill feeding is banned and what foods can be fed to pigs.
FMD is the single greatest disease threat to Australia's livestock industries. It is a highly-contagious disease, which affects cloven-hoofed animals, including cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, camels, llamas and alpacas. Horses are not affected.
A severe, multi-state outbreak would cost the national economy an estimated $52 billion in lost revenue over ten years.
Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Allison Crook said the most likely way FMD could enter Australia was through illegally imported foodstuffs, especially salted or cured meats, which were then fed to pigs as food scraps or swill.
"Swill feeding is believed to have caused the outbreak of FMD in the UK in 2001, when more than six million animals were destroyed to eradicate the disease," she said.
"We have a strong message for Queenslanders ─ pigs must not be fed food or food waste that contains meat, meat products, milk or milk products not of Australian origin, or anything that has been in contact with these items.
"This is prohibited pig feed, which is commonly known as swill. Typical examples of swill include table scraps, restaurant waste, bakery products such as meat pies, sausage rolls and bacon and cheese rolls, Caesar salad containing bacon pieces, milk or milk products not of Australian origin and untreated used cooking oils or fats.
"The FMD virus can remain viable in food even after chilling, freezing, or inadequate cooking. That's one of the reasons feeding food waste to pigs is illegal in all states and territories of Australia.
"You should only give pigs commercially available pig feed. This applies to all pigs, including pets and pigs kept by hobbyists.
"The penalties for swill feeding, supplying swill or collecting swill for pig owners are significant, and can include fines and even imprisonment."
Pig owners are required to do the right thing and not feed swill. Biosecurity Queensland officers are available on 13 25 23 to discuss FMD and FMD prevention measures.
Free online FMD awareness training is also available at www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au/FMD.
It includes information about FMD, swill feeding and what to do if FMD is suspected.
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