Protect livestock from lead poisoning – clean up paddocks and fence dumps
With the dry conditions prevailing over much of Western Australia this year and as we head into summer, there will be less available feed for livestock.
At these times, livestock may seek alternative feed sources, which may expose them to sources of lead.
Lead ingestion can cause poisoning in livestock, typically in young and inquisitive animals. Exposure occurs from licking or chewing the lead components of old or burnt machinery batteries, sump oil spills or flaking paints on machinery, cars, sheds or yards.
Affected livestock may not respond to sound or touch, may appear blind, stagger, have tremors and die. Always call a vet immediately if animals show these disease signs.
An intake of only small doses of lead in livestock may not cause signs of disease – but can cause residues.
It is an offence under WA biosecurity legislation to supply meat for human consumption containing lead residue levels over 0.1 milligrams per kilogram or edible offal containing lead residue levels over 0.5 milligrams per kilogram.
The National Residue Survey (NRS), a national testing program, monitors livestock supplied to WA abattoirs and reports any elevated lead levels to state investigators. This system ensures product safety for consumers, as well as safeguarding our access to livestock markets.
Complying with the accreditation requirements under Meat and Livestock Australia’s Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program is vital to protect individual businesses and the sector as a whole.
Key steps are to remove potential sources of lead from paddocks and prevent stock from accessing machinery yards. Farm dumps should be fenced securely so that stock cannot get in.
Further information is available on the department’s website and search ‘lead poisoning’.
If livestock have had access to lead sources or are showing signs of poisoning, seek immediate veterinary advice by contacting a local DPIRD field vet or private vet.
For more information contact Bruce Twentyman, senior veterinary officer, South Perth on +61 (0)8 9368 4127