Steps for buying, owning & selling livestock

As a livestock owner, whether you have one or 100 animals, there are certain legal responsibilities that influence livestock health, welfare and biosecurity. These are governed by laws, codes and regulations in Victoria.

Following the steps within this guide will ensure that you meet these requirements.

Before introducing stock to your property, make sure you have the appropriate facilities to contain and handle stock for animal husbandry procedures. 


Check with your local council
Check for any rules and regulations about keeping sheep, cattle, goats or pigs on your property. This may vary depending on the zone or location of your property.

Traceability is important
It allows animal movements to be traced from one property to another and also through the food chain once sold. This is helpful in many different situations whether your livestock are pets or you have a commercial enterprise. Livestock traceability systems are based on three elements:

1. Property identification 
2. National Livestock Identification System and
3. Animal movements

 
1. Property identification

Get a Property Identification Code (PIC)
A PIC identifies a property that has livestock and is a requirement under Victorian law. It enables you to be contacted if stock escapes your property as well as identify an animal’s location in case of a disease outbreak.

• Apply for your free PIC from Agriculture Victoria at pic.agriculture.vic.gov.au or call 1800 678 779.

 
2. National Livestock Identification System (NLIS)

Set up a National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) account
The NLIS is the Australian system for recording sheep, cattle and goats movements. Once you have an NLIS account you can register your PIC on the system and be set up to purchase livestock. 

• Set up your free NLIS account at www.nlis.com.au or call 1800 683 111

Use NLIS approved ear tags
In Victoria all cattle, sheep and goats must have an NLIS approved electronic ear tag.

When you receive an animal you need to register its tag details on the NLIS database within 48 hours. If an animal is born on your property, you are responsible for tagging and recording the animal on the database.

• Purchase approved tags from Agriculture Victoria at tags.agriculture.vic.gov.au or call 1800 678 779

 
3. Animal movements

Become part of the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program
To sell stock you must be accredited with the LPA program. This quality assurance program ensures the integrity of the Australian livestock industry and gives you access to National Vendor Declarations.

• Register for LPA through Meat & Livestock Australia at lpa.nlis.com.au or for help call 1800 683 111

Use National Vendor Declarations (NVDs)
All livestock sold in Victoria must be accompanied by an LPA NVD, whether it’s one animal being sold or 1000. NVDs include information about an animal’s history and food safety status. You can access NVDs once you are accredited with the LPA program.

• NVDs are available through Meat and Livestock Australia. Electronic NVDs are free at www.mla.com.au/envd or hard copies can be purchased by calling 1800 683 111

Use an Animal Health Declaration (AHD)
AHDs tell a buyer additional information about animals being purchased, such as their health status, past treatments and vaccinations. Buyers can request an AHD, but they are not a legal requirement. 

• Access free AHDs for cattle, sheep or goats at www.farmbiosecurity.com.au

 

Other things to keep in mind

Understand your animal welfare obligations
It is important that animals are well looked after. The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines outline the national standard for care and management of livestock, including feed and water, appropriate handling and management of animals, breeding, humane destruction and more.

• Access the Standards and Guidelines at www.animalwelfarestandards.net.au

Don’t feed swill to pigs
Swill feeding is illegal in Australia because it increases the chance of an exotic disease outbreak. Swill is food scraps that have been in contact with meat or meat products, including left over meals, bakery waste and used cooking oils. Harsh penalties apply under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.

• Find out more about swill feeding from Australian Pork® at pigpass.australianpork.com.au/faq

Sign up for myMLA
Join myMLA to have one username and password for your NLIS, LPA and NVD accounts and more.

• Sign up for free through Meat & Livestock Australia at http://www.mla.com.au/mymla