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Cattle movements in natural disasters

Moving cattle during and after a natural disaster

The rules of the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) are sufficiently flexible during times of natural disasters to provide cattle owners and producers with a number of options for dealing with displaced cattle.

Some situations have straightforward solutions in relation to NLIS tagging and database transfers and others may require approvals from biosecurity inspectors. Because of the possibility of disease outbreaks in the aftermath of natural disasters, it is imperative to have good traceability of cattle.

Cattle displacement Solution
Displaced to immediate neighbour

These cattle can be returned home as soon as practical whether NLIS tagged or not. A database transfer is not required, however, a waybill is required.

Displaced further afield

Tagged cattle - can return to their home property. Scan once, update the database with a 'to' and 'from' transfer for where they were found. Biosecurity Queensland offices in flood areas have scanners available to assist with this process. A waybill is required.

Un-tagged cattle - owners should discuss the return of these cattle with an inspector to decide how best to identify and record their movements. Three options exist and owners may need to seek advice from their local inspector on the best option for their particular circumstance. A waybill is required.

Un-tagged cattle - not returning home

Un-tagged cattle - not returning to their home property. Must be tagged with a post-breeder (orange) tag for the property of consignment. The receiver is required to update the NLIS database. A waybill is required.

Identifying stray cattle after a natural disaster

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

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 online electronic brands register may assist. While a brand is considered prima facie evidence of ownership, other evidence, such as sale documents and waybills, may be required to remove any doubt if animals are no longer at their home properties.

Using the NLIS tag 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 +61 7 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

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

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

Further information