Raising livestock for commercial farming can be a profitable endeavour. Understanding the requirements for buying, growing, trading, processing and selling livestock requires a number of decision-making pathways that will be specific to the capacity of your property.
Owning livestock on small holdings requires good planning and understanding of livestock needs. Meeting your livestock's needs (for movement, pastures, feeding and water) and managing animal behaviours can be challenging in limited spaces.
You may also still be required to adhere to some legal requirements concerning certain livestock. For example, whether you own one or many, some livestock types require compulsory registration as part of the National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS).
The following information will help you identify what you need to do regarding livestock and also provide some general advice on caring for livestock. Note that there are also links to information about husbandry for a wide range of animals in the
Biosecurity for New and Small Landholders web page.
Caring for livestock
Providing feed, shelter, water and exercise are all part of caring for livestock. Before purchasing livestock, take the time to consider the type of livestock you are able to manage.
Biosecurity Tasmania (part of NRE Tas) provides some information on basic animal husbandry and biosecurity requirements that may help you in your journey into livestock ownership and care.
Worms and parasites in livestock
Worms and parasites in livestock will affect the general health of the animal. Biosecurity Tasmania web pages can assist you with information on parasites in livestock, and to access services provided by the Department in detecting parasites.
Animal welfare responsibilities
Under the Tasmanian Animal Welfare Act 1993, there are many classes of people deemed to be responsible for the welfare of animals. In practice, this means that in addition to the owner, other people have some responsibility if they have animals on agistment or loan, if they are a livestock carrier or livestock agent, or if they have animals in their care in any other way. The Act applies to all animals, whether they are pets or livestock.
Follow the link for
more information on the
Animal Welfare Act 1993.
Standards and guidelines
All States are working towards nationally-consistent livestock welfare standards and guidelines. Under this system guidelines are accepted good industry practice that should be complied with. They are advisory documents approved under the
Animal Welfare Act 1993 for the education and guidance of persons involved in the care and management of animals, promoting the adoption of good standards of husbandry.
The Biosecurity Tasmania provides a list of
guidelines for livestock animals.
Growing pastures for livestock
Growing and maintaining pastures for livestock grazing requires care and planning, especially for small landholders looking to keep large livestock.
Cows, sheep, goats, horses, alpacas, chickens and pigs all graze very differently and often require different nutritional requirements from pastures. Seasonal variation can greatly affect the quality and quantity of pasture in paddocks. The carrying capacity of pastures (effective stocking rates of grazing animals per land area) can dramatically change with seasonal variation.
Some links you may find useful regarding pastures for grazing are:
Fencing is an important part of providing pastures for livestock and managing your animal husbandry. Using hard fencing (permanent) or movable fencing (eg. electric) can change the way you are able to provide areas of new grazing for your livestock, and assist in
rotational grazing for pasture maintenance and parasite prevention.
Fencing can also provide a barrier to browsing wildlife which compete with livestock for pasture. Damage by wildlife can result in significant costs to Tasmania's primary producers. The Department assists land managers to develop and implement effective integrated damage control strategies.
Information on how to manage browsing and grazing losses caused by wildlife can be found on the Department's Wildlife Management web pages.
The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS)
Livestock identification and traceback are essential to provide the level of food safety assurance required by our customers and consumers and to help protect the livestock industry from the damage caused by emergency animal diseases.
Whether you own one or many, some livestock categories require compulsory registration.
Registration of properties conducting any primary industry enterprise, including hobby farming, is highly recommended and is compulsory for livestock industries.
All properties that run livestock must be registered with the Department and have a Property Identification Code (PIC) allocated to buy, sell and move livestock. Information on
how to register for a PIC number is available on the Department's website.
Buying, moving and selling livestock
To buy, sell or move livestock from one property to another or for slaughter, animals must be properly identified. Livestock identification allows animals to be traced back to where they have come from or to where they may have been moved in the event of a disease outbreak or chemical contamination.
If you are interested in accessing new breeds that require you to import animals from interstate, ensure you have spoken to a Biosecurity Officer on the requirements for health checks and vaccinations of the livestock before any movement of the animals.
Animal health and biosecurity
Tasmania's biosecurity depends on owners, and those who work with animals, incorporating good biosecurity practice into their everyday management (regardless of property size or livestock numbers).
Being able to recognise signs of disease in livestock animals is important and the Department provides guides to key animal diseases and biosecurity.
The Biosecurity Act 2019 requires people to report any case or suspicion of a notifiable animal disease. These notifiable diseases are all serious and some are zoonotic (that is, they can infect humans as well).
Notifiable diseases in Tasmania includes two lists of diseases – Exotic and Endemic.
Exotic Animal Diseases - most of the diseases in this list are exotic to the whole of Australia, but there are a small number that occur on mainland Australia but not in Tasmania. The law requires that any suspicion of an Exotic Animal Disease is reported immediately to an authorised officer and that the owner of the suspect animals isolates them immediately, pending further investigation of the signs.
Endemic Animal Diseases - are known to occur in Tasmania or on the Australian mainland and some form of monitoring or control is required. The law requires that any suspicion of an Endemic Animal Disease is reported immediately to an authorised officer. There is no legal requirement to isolate the suspect animals pending a further investigation of the signs, but owners are strongly urged to take all reasonable steps to prevent any spread of those endemic diseases that are contagious.
In addition to the Exotic and Endemic diseases, there are two further categories of notifiable disease that must be reported:
- Any suspect case of a new disease (not believed to be currently in Tasmania) must be reported immediately to an inspector.
- Any disease that is causing deaths or production losses and which is not readily diagnosed is deemed to be an unknown disease. Any unknown disease must also be reported immediately to an inspector or investigated by a veterinarian and the suspect animals isolated pending further investigation of the signs.
To report a notifiable disease phone the all hours emergency disease hotline on 1800 675 888.
For further information on Tasmania's notifiable diseases or on the legal requirements relating to notifiable diseases, phone the Chief Veterinary Officer on 03 6165 3777, or email: AnimalDisease.Enquiries@nre.tas.gov.au
Animal products - eggs, dairy, meat and poultry
Producing animal products from your small or new landholding can be very rewarding. Depending on whether you are producing for your own use or for sharing or sale, different requirements may be applied to your production.
Ensuring food produced in Tasmania's primary production and processing sectors is safe to eat is an important step in ensuring the wellbeing of consumers. It is also important to the protection of Tasmania's reputation as a producer of safe and clean food, to allow ongoing market access and premium prices for Tasmania products.
Specific legislative controls exist for production and selling of some animal product commodities. These commodities are:
There is no regulation of home butchering for consumption of meat on your own property. Once the product leaves the property then it falls under the relevant meat and poultry regulations.
It is important to ensure that the slaughter of animals occurs with humane practices that do not cause undue stress or pain to the animal. A number of experienced mobile butchers operate in Tasmania, providing on farm services for the slaughter and butchering of livestock.
Refer to animal welfare guidelines for the most effective method for destruction of livestock.
Putting down stock if necessary
There are some circumstances when stock need to be put down humanely for welfare reasons. Vets will not always be able to attend at a time needed, and farmers do sometimes need to do the task themselves. Refer to
animal welfare guidelines for the most effective methods for humane destruction of livestock.
Caring for livestock in an emergency
When a bushfire or flood affects your property, caring for the livestock can be an extremely worrying prospect.
There are some tools and guidelines for care of animals through such events that may help for planning for the worst.