Preventing chemical residues in food-producing animals while drought feeding
Take care when purchasing stockfeed (fodder) during drought or dry conditions. At these times, you may need to source new and alternative feeds for food-producing animals. Feed for animals is often sourced from by-products of agricultural and horticultural crops and may carry an increased risk of chemical residues and contaminants that could affect food-producing animals.
You may not know what chemicals were used on the crop or how the feed was produced, so ask the feed supplier about the risk of residues or contaminants during drought periods.
Written assurance from suppliers of feed
You should ask for a commodity vendor declaration (CVD) from the feed supplier. Although suppliers do not legally have to give you a CVD, you should ask for one so that you have written details of the chemicals used during production. If a supplier refuses to give you a CVD, you can:
- source feed from another producer
- source fodder from an accredited fodder scheme
- have the feed tested for chemical residues and contaminants
- only feed the by-product or fodder to breeders or cattle that are not entering the food chain immediately. Slaughter withholding periods vary depending on the chemical and the level in the feed. In most, but not all, cases, withholding stock from slaughter on known clean feed sources for 60 days will be enough.
Additional testing and documentation for chemical residues and contaminants
During drought, you can introduce additional safeguards to monitor the chemical residue and contaminant status of your cattle. This can involve increased testing and fulfilling obligations when you sell the cattle.
Make sure you accurately complete relevant chemical and contaminant sections on vendor declarations to ensure that buyers can make informed decisions about the risks associated with the commodity or animals.
Restrictions on feeding food-producing animals
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) have issued permit PER87001 that allows the use of cotton trash to be fed to livestock so long as the livestock are put on clean feed for 60 days prior to slaughter.
Animal protein meals for ruminants
It is illegal to feed restricted animal material (RAM) to ruminants. RAM includes meat and bone meal, blood meal, fish meal, poultry meal, feather meal, compounded feeds made from these products and most pet foods.
The ban on feeding RAM to ruminants has been put in place nationally to:
- prevent the potential spread of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as 'mad cow disease') in Australia
- ensure that our meat and meat products continue to have access to domestic and international markets.
The requirements of the ruminant feed ban for livestock owners include that they:
- must not feed restricted animal material (RAM), including animal meals, to ruminant animals
- must ensure ruminant animals are not fed any animal feed that has the positive RAM statement, which is:
'This product contains restricted animal material - DO NOT FEED TO CATTLE, SHEEP, GOATS, DEER OR OTHER RUMINANTS'.
- when selecting proprietary animal feed, should only choose those products designed and labelled specifically for feeding to ruminant animals
- should not feed ruminants foods formulated for dogs and cats because they are likely to contain RAM, even when there is no positive RAM statement.
- Read more about the ruminant feed ban requirements for livestock owners.
- Find out more about stock feed, fodder crops, grain and pasture treatments.
- Read about chemical residue risk assessment.
- Learn about looking after the welfare of your livestock in dry periods.