Backyard pig production poses foot and mouth threat, VFF

An increase in ‘backyard’ pig production has the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) concerned of a possible foot and mouth disease outbreak in light of evidence of illegal swill-feeding.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), confirmed that the authority had received evidence of people collecting food scraps from shops to use as feed for pigs.

Over the past 12 months, the department has issued 155 registrations to Victorian properties allowing them to keep pigs. The DEPI states that many of the newly registered properties are typically small-scale enterprises specialising in organic and free-range production, however it is the unregistered animals that are of concern, The Weekly Times Now reports.

The VFF agrees that undeclared animals can lead to health and animal welfare concerns and can potentially pose a significant threat to the livestock industry.

"It is fashionable to have a pig in the backyard at the moment, but I have real concerns over how these pigs are fed and looked after – we really have no control over what these people are doing," said John Bourke, pig group president at the Victorian Farmers Federation.

"My grave concern is foot and mouth disease, as all the evidence (from overseas outbreaks such as the UK disaster) says that if there is going to be an outbreak it will come from backyard pig production.

"And if I was a beef or lamb producer, I would be even more upset about what is happening, as their meat sales would be decimated by a foot and mouth disease outbreak."

Penalties for suppling, keeping or feeding swill can be up to $17,500.


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