What’s the go with Cattle Health Declarations?

Rachael O’Brien, Manager Biosecurity & Extension, Queensland

The Cattle Health Declaration is currently gaining significant exposure as a tool for producers to address biosecurity concerns. It’s a document that allows producers to make an assessment of cattle they might be purchasing and the biosecurity risk those cattle may pose. The Cattle Health Declaration is starting to be requested by producers buying cattle from studs and through saleyards. For many producers biosecurity is a new concept so it’s understandable that many producers have questions about the cattle health declaration.

Be sure to check out the table at the end of this article for a quick, easy to use guide on when to use a Cattle Health Declaration.

What is a Cattle Health Declaration and why should I ask for one when buying cattle? 

The Cattle Health Declaration is a tool that can assist producers in assessing the biosecurity risks of new stock being introduced to your property. It is designed to be used when animals are being bought and sold. It allows sellers to provide buyers with additional information relating to the health of the animals they are bringing onto their property. It is separate to the National Vendor Declaration waybill (NVD) because the questions on the NVD relate primarily to food safety, whereas the Cattle Health Declaration is animal health related.

Producers should request a Cattle Health Declaration to gather further information relevant to the health of their new purchases or incoming agistment stock. This helps producers manage the health of incoming animals as well as their existing herd.

When should I send a Cattle Health Declaration with my cattle?

When selling cattle it is recommended that you send a Cattle Health Declaration along with your sale cattle in most instances.

If a person requests a Cattle Health Declaration then you should provide one prior to sale. Buyers actively managing animal health, participating in Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) or trading in Johne’s disease sensitive markets are likely going to want this document.

If you are sending cattle to a saleyard you should send a Cattle Health Declaration with your cattle.

How does the Cattle Health Declaration fit in with J-BAS?

If you are participating in J-BAS you should send and request this document as part of your risk assessment. Requesting this document when you buy cattle can provide additional information such as J-BAS level or if there is an increased risk of infection in the animals you are looking to buy. Having this information gives you the opportunity to manage the risk of Johne’s disease in incoming animals.

Are Cattle Health Declarations mandatory?

The Cattle Health Declaration is not mandatory unless your cattle are Northern Territory bound. This is an entry requirement of the Northern Territory Government. If you do not send this document with your cattle they will not be able to move into the Northern Territory until one is completed.

If you don’t provide a Cattle Health Declaration to buyers who require them to move the cattle after sale you could be limiting your markets.

When do I not need a Cattle Health Declaration?

If your cattle are going straight to the abattoir or to a feedlot, you will probably find they will not request a Cattle Health Declaration. The Declaration is for herd health management. Feedlots & abattoirs are more concerned with food safety issues so will be wanting to receive the NVD.

Where can I get a Cattle Health Declaration?

Cattle Health Declarations are available online at the Farm Biosecurity website.

How do I fill out a Cattle Health Declaration?

Producers should answer the questions honestly. You do not need to test for any of the diseases on the cattle health declaration but if you have done in the past you should describe your results on the form. Producers are making a declaration when filling out a Cattle Health Declaration. When the form asks for specific vaccinations or treatments it is asking if you have applied anything to the animals travelling to sale in the last six months.

If you are participating in J-BAS you should describe your J-BAS status in Question 6. Whilst the form says optional, it refers to the scheme of J-BAS being optional. If you have a J-BAS score you should record your score.

Cattle Health Declaration

Quick Guide

Should I fill in a cattle health declaration?

Do I need a J-BAS to trade into this market?

J-BAS status required

Sending cattle to a Northern Territory property or for live export Yes – Mandatory Yes J-BAS 6 (to enter NT)
Sending cattle to slaughter to a Northern Territory abattoir Yes – Mandatory No Not required
Sending cattle to a Western Australian property Recommended (LB1 form mandatory) Yes From QLD/NT : J-BAS 7

From NSW/SA/VIC/TAS : J-BAS 8

Sending cattle to Western Australian direct for export or slaughter Recommended (LB1 form mandatory) Yes All states: J-BAS 6
Sending cattle to a Western Australian property travelling via the Northern Territory Yes – Mandatory (for entry into the NT) Yes From QLD/NT : J-BAS 7

From NSW/SA/VIC/TAS : J-BAS 8

Sending cattle to Western Australian direct for export or slaughter travelling via the Northern Territory Yes – Mandatory (for entry into the NT) Yes All states: J-BAS 6
Sending cattle into NSW/QLD Recommended No (unless your buyer requests J-BAS) Not required.

Note: if you bring JD infected animals or animals you believe to be infected into the state you must report this to Biosecurity Queensland

Sending cattle into VIC/TAS or SA Recommended No (unless your buyer requests J-BAS) Market driven
Cattle to Saleyards Recommended Contact Agent Contact Agent
Live export via QLD/NSW Recommended No Not required
Cattle direct to abattoir in QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, TAS No No Not required
Cattle to feedlots Recommended Contact Agent/Feedlot Not required

*Disclaimer: This information is true and correct as of 17/10/2017, however all producers are advised to contact the state of entry for up-to-date requirements prior to consigning any animals for travel.