Back to Research & Development

Subscribe to R&D Round-Up newsletter

Stay informed with a short, sharp monthly summary of MLA’s latest research reports.

Sign up

Feral pigs

Feral pigs are a widespread and destructive agricultural pest that cause significant environmental and financial damage. They are found in all states, but are most common in NSW, the NT and Queensland.

The threat of African Swine Fever (AFS) entering Australia reinforces the importance of managing feral pigs to prevent the spread of this emergency animal disease. Read this factsheet from Australian Pork for more information on preventing the outbreak of ASF. MLA is involved in industry efforts to maintain Australia’s biosecurity and prevent emergency animal diseases by developing this article about ASF and these tips for on-farm biosecurity.

MLA supported the former Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to ensure a coordinated, multi-species and ecosystems approach to ethical pest control. MLA has also directly supported the development of the PIGOUT® and HOGGONE® baits. MLA helped support the development of the new pig bait, PIGOUT developed by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) and Animal Control Technologies.

PestSmart which is powered by the CISS, provides information about feral pigs relating to their biology, ecology, impacts and best practice management.

Fast facts

  • Pigs arrived in Australia with the First Fleet but have also been introduced from Asia.
  • Escaped domestic pigs contribute to the current feral pig problem.
  • Feral pig numbers fluctuate widely according to food availability, but currently there are approximately 24 million feral pigs across about 40% of Australia.
  • It only takes a few generations for domestic pigs to revert to a wild ‘look’ (largely black, muscular upper body and bristly hair) once they become feral.

Impact of feral pigs in Australia

Feral pigs can affect livestock enterprises as they:

  • contribute to lamb losses by preying on young lambs
  • contribute to managed goat losses
  • damage fences, dams and other water sources
  • compete with stock for feed
  • damage grain and cane crops reducing their yields
  • can be a major threat to stock as a potential carrier of exotic diseases
  • damage the environment by competing with and feeding on native animals
  • damage water sources and spread weeds
  • can be recognised as a key threat to native flora, fauna and ecosystems
  • are declared as a pest animal in Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria and WA (under federal legislation).

Control methods

The Invasive Animals CRC and Animal Control Technologies Australia, with support from MLA and other industry partners, developed the:

  • 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) PIGOUT bait
  • next-generation sodium nitrite HOGGONE bait
  • HogHopper™ feral pig-specific bait delivery device.

HOGGONE is currently undergoing assessment by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) as part of its registration application process. Download PestSmart’s frequently asked questions about HOGGONE fact sheet for more information.

Feral pigs are difficult to manage as they can breed back quickly and change behaviours and movement patterns in response to control.

Effective control requires population reduction of at least 50% to 70% every year. Best practice management typically involves a combination of control techniques.

PestSmart’s Glovebox Guide for Managing Feral Pigs lists the pros and cons of currently available control tools and when to use each one. The PestSmart website also contains detailed Standard Operating Procedures for control methods, including:

Use the FeralPigScan website or app to record and map sightings of feral pigs, and to support collaborative and coordinated control efforts.

Feral pig management is a state jurisdiction matter, so landholder responsibilities and availability of tools will differ depending on where control is carried out. Check with your local producer group and/or state department before starting a control program.