Identifying stray cattle after a natural disaster

Stray cattle can be identified by reference to brands, earmarks, and NLIS tags if they are present.

Before moving cattle from the property, contact the local biosecurity inspector to check if there are any restrictions on the movement of the cattle.


If the brand is clearly marked, it is relatively easy to determine from the brands register who applied the brand. However, this may not be the current owner. If more than one brand is present, this usually signifies the animal has been cross branded and the second brand (usually lower in position) could be the current owner. However, because cross branding is not compulsory, the evidence from the brand is not always an accurate indication of the current owner.

The DAF Brands database (iBrands) may help you to identify the owner. While a brand is considered prima facie evidence of ownership, other evidence, such as movement records, may be required to remove any doubt if animals are no longer at their home properties.

NLIS devices

Using the NLIS device to identify the place of residence for stray cattle is also possible. Because of privacy issues, it is not possible to obtain this information direct from the NLIS database, so finders can contact us, email NLIS administration or fax requests to (07) 3310 2864.

In your email or fax, please include the 16 visual characters, taking care to transcribe the number correctly. Also include your contact information such as your name, address and phone number. Alternatively, please read the NLIS tag with a scanner and download the information to your computer and email or fax to NLIS administration.

Once the information has been sent to Biosecurity Queensland, the numbers will be entered into the NLIS database to search for the animal's last place of registration. A Biosecurity Queensland officer will contact the listed owner and request that they contact the finder.

If the last movement of the animal was not correctly recorded on the database, the listed owner may be incorrect.

A less-accurate way of identifying the possible place of residence is to read the first 8 characters of the NLIS tag. This can only be checked if you have a NLIS account and you use the 'Search the PIC Register' report. This report lists the location where the tag was applied, which may not be the current owner's property.

Unidentifiable animals

If cattle cannot be identified at all, contact your local council or pound keeper for advice on their management.

Also consider...