What we do to look after our pigs
Australian pigs are fed specially designed grain based rations. To ensure a balanced diet, farmers include vitamins and mineral supplements in the pig's diet.
Ear notching is one of a number of methods used for the identification of pigs and as such is a necessary component of farm management. It enables a producer to quickly identify the pig to monitor its growth rate, health, age and stage of production.
Teeth clipping, like castration is optional and is a practice carried out to prevent injury to litter mates and udders of nursing sows. When performed correctly, teeth clipping does not hurt the piglet. Stockpersons must be competent in teeth clipping to ensure that it is performed correctly, preventing unnecessary pain in the piglet.
Tail biting is a common problem in all production systems and the practice of tail docking is done as a preventive measure to reduce injuries at a very early age in the piglet. Not all farms undertake this husbandry practice. Once again, tail docking should be performed by a competent stockperson.
Antibiotics and hormones
Product safety and animal welfare are very high priorities for Australian pig farmers. All veterinary medicines registered for use in pigs are thoroughly evaluated by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA) as part of the registration process. APVMA standards are amongst the highest in the world.
While antibiotics have been an important management tool in livestock husbandry, there have been significant moves to minimise the use of antibiotics in Australian pork production.
The joint industry/government PigPass system includes the PigPass national vendor declaration (NVD) which requires producers to declare whether or not pigs treated with veterinary medicines are within a Withholding period (WHPs - setdown by state legislators) or export slaughter intervals (ESIs - interim ESIs have been established by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service as part of the export certification process).
ESIs refer to the period following treatment when pigs are unsuitable for export processing. ESIs ensure export market requirements are met. WHPs refer to the periods following treatment when pigs are unsuitable for processing for domestic consumption.