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  5. What is swill and can I feed it to pigs, poultry or other farm animals?

What is swill and can I feed it to pigs, poultry or other farm animals?

Swill is any animal food that contains animal matter such as meat, meat products or meat by-products. It is illegal in Australia to feed swill to pigs. In Queensland, it is illegal to feed swill to any livestock including pigs, poultry and ruminants.

Swill includes any of the following:

  • meat, meat scraps, and meat trimmings from any mammals or birds
  • offal (such as liver, kidney, tongue etc.), blood, bones or other products derived from any mammals or birds (including eggs, faeces, or urine)
  • any food and food scraps that have been cooked with or in contact with meat or any other material derived from mammals or birds
  • vegetable oils used to cook meat
  • any food of unknown origin.

Feed containing so-called Restricted Animal Material that has been rendered and treated as per the Australian Standard for the Hygienic Rendering of Animal Products is allowed to be fed to pigs or poultry. It is illegal to feed Restricted Animal Material to ruminants (e.g. cows or sheep) but it can be fed to monogastrics (e.g. pigs and poultry). Restricted Animal Material includes:

  • meat meal
  • blood and bone meal
  • fish meal
  • feather meal.

It is also illegal to supply swill for pigs, or to allow pigs access to swill (in Queensland this applies to all livestock). Feeding swill to pigs is illegal because foods that contain meat, or are contaminated in any way by meat, may contain viruses extremely harmful to pigs and other livestock, and even to humans. Swill and Restricted Animal Material has been the cause of disease outbreaks overseas. If such viruses entered Australia’s livestock industries, devastating results could follow both economically but also in terms of suffering to many, many animals. Many of these viruses are extremely resistant and survive boiling, freezing and curing processes. These viruses include:

  • Foot and mouth disease
  • African swine fever
  • Classical swine fever
  • Swine vesicular disease
  • Aujeszky’s disease
  • Bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

It is illegal to feed chicken litter to all farm animals. Feeding chicken litter can lead to the spread of diseases such as salmonellosis, mastitis and botulism, and poses a food safety risk for humans. The feeding of poultry feed to ruminants is also prohibited because poultry feed usually contains Restricted Animal Material (see above).

Could I be prosecuted for feeding swill or other prohibited feeds to my animals? The short answer to this is yes. For example, feeding swill to pigs, allowing swill to be fed and not preventing access to swill are all considered serious offenses and carry serious fines. Suspected feeding of swill or other prohibited feeds should be reported to your Department of Agriculture or equivalent or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 88.

Updated on May 24, 2023
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