Feral pig grain treatment subsidy on offer

By Will Thorncraft, Biosecurity Officer

With the change of season 18 months ago, pigs have had exceptional conditions to increase in numbers while staying well hidden.

Due to the increased feral pig activity across the region, Central West Local Land Services has committed $60,000 towards subsidised 1080 treatment of landholder grain. The aim of this program is to encourage more landholders to run baiting programs and to reduce feral pig numbers across the region and in turn, their impacts on production.

Sows have the potential to have two litters of piglets per year and can reproduce from the age of six months. This reproduction rate shows why they can grow in numbers so quickly. Based on this breeding potential, a mob of 10 pigs could grow in size to (an estimated) 480 pigs within a 12-month period.

Feral pigs can carry diseases such as leptospirosis and swine brucellosis which can affect livestock and humans. They damage crops reducing potential grain produced, are a major predator of lambs, have the potential to degrade soils, spread weeds and cause major losses of native wildlife and fauna.

With the threat of African Swine Fever entering Australia, they pose a significant biosecurity risk for this exotic disease to take hold in the feral population.

A recent survey in the central west completed by 85 landholders showed that the average cost to farms was approximately $65 per feral pig in damages each year. Based on this, targeting feral pigs now will have financial benefits on your operation in coming seasons.

Baiting of feral pigs is the primary control method and when done correctly has the potential to eliminate the majority of the local population. When controlling feral pigs, the aim is to take out over 70% of the pigs to have an impact on that local population. Ideally this means follow-up baiting and ongoing control activities will maintain pig numbers at a controllable level.

We encourage landholders to use integrated control methods for the best overall outcome. This includes trapping and ground shooting in order to get any of those difficult wary pigs. These methods can be less effective than baiting but contribute to the control effort in conjunction with baiting.

For advice on a feral pig control program for your situation, please contact your local Biosecurity Officer to assist you with making your baiting operations more successful.

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