Australian vets release pig welfare guidelines

Media release date: 
Wednesday, 05 December 2012

The Australian Pig Veterinarians (APV), a special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has developed a set of guidelines to assist industry, private veterinarians and government to appropriately treat sick or injured pigs.

“Vets play an important role in advising farmers on how to maintain the health and well-being of pigs, both during and in-between farm visits.  The guidelines include a handy "triage-style" format that farmers can resource if they are unsure of the appropriate treatment of a diseased animal,” said Australian Pig Veterinarians spokesperson, Dr Trish Holyoake.
“As with other industries, the pig industry is becoming more transparent to address concerns of the general public in relation to animal welfare. Welfare legislation is likely to change in response to these concerns so we see the guidelines evolving over time,” she said.

The key objectives of the guidelines are to:

  • set out the legal responsibilities of producers and stockpersons for pig welfare in all states
  • advise vets of their legal responsibilities when dealing with on-farm welfare issues
  • develop a standard set of guidelines for vets for the treatment and management of sick and injured pigs.

“The guidelines have four action categories depending on the level of injury or illness, including supervised hospitalisation and in-pen treatment with a heavy focus on the use of pain-relieving medicines to support pigs' recovery.  

“In some cases, it is appropriate to immediately humanely euthanase an animal that is in severe pain or is unlikely to recover.  It is essential that farmers have systems for monitoring each pig's recovery.”

Currently each state and territory is responsible for its own animal welfare legislation, including the care of sick and injured pigs. Federal and state governments are currently working together to produce consistent welfare regulatory outcomes for livestock throughout Australia.

The guidelines were prepared by Australian Pig Veterinarians in consultation with Australian Pork Limited (APL), and have been distributed to pig veterinarians and stakeholders around the country. APL has also developed a Care of the Compromised Pig manual to assist producers. This publication references and compliments the pig vet’s guidelines.

The guidelines can be viewed at:

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 9000 members working in all areas of animal science, health and welfare.

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