Agisting livestock after a fire

Page last updated: Friday, 25 May 2018 - 4:20pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

After a fire, agisting livestock away from affected properties may be an option.

Asking questions before agisting stock is likely to benefit their health and welfare in the long term, even if there may be considerable pressure to quickly move stock off an affected property because of lack of feed or water, and limited or non-existent containment areas or handling facilities.

Make sure livestock are fit to travel

If there are any doubts about the health or ability of stock to cope with being transported, they should be assessed by a veterinarian, or they should not be transported. See Animal Welfare for more information.

Who is responsible for the livestock while on agistment?

Clearly establish who will be responsible for the day-to-day husbandry of the animals. Ideally, a written agistment agreement should be signed between the two parties, with clarification of all responsibilities:

  • who will check the animals each day
  • who is responsible for providing supplementary feed if necessary
  • who is responsible for providing or organising for any treatment required by stock
  • the time commitment of people offering agistment
  • how to manage unintended matings leading to inadvertent pregnancies in stock
  • who is the preferred veterinarian in case stock become unwell or are injured during their time on the agistment property
  • the responsibility for all costs associated with the agistment.

Protecting agisted livestock from diseases

Prevent potential disease spread when agisting someone’s stock or seeking agistment for one's own stock.

To protect agisted stock, and other stock on the same property:

  • request and provide as much information about the health of the stock as possible before agistment
  • confine livestock from different properties to specific paddocks, or at a minimum, quarantine introduced animals in specific paddocks until their disease status is known.

Some specific diseases or pests that could be introduced into a herd/flock during agistment are:

Ovine Johne’s disease (OJD)

Flocks or properties known to be infected with OJD are not quarantined in WA, and owners should declare their status when entering into an agistment agreement.

OJD has a long incubation period, and it is not practical to quarantine sheep for the period to ensure they do not have OJD. If there is concern that the sheep may have OJD, they should be confined to one paddock and get independent veterinary advice to assess the risk. See managing the risk of ovine Johne's disease for more information.

Virulent footrot

Flocks known to have virulent footrot are quarantined in WA. Where movement off the property is required on welfare grounds, such as after a fire, emergency permits can be arranged through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Agisted sheep may not be showing signs of lameness, but have the potential to carry the bacteria that causes virulent footrot on their feet. If there is any risk of agisted sheep carrying virulent footrot, keep them separate from other sheep on the property. See managing virulent footrot in sheep and goats in Western Australia for more information.

Lice

All livestock species are susceptible to their own particular species of lice. Sheep lice, in particular, may prove difficult and costly to eradicate once established in a flock. Lice are difficult to detect by inspecting sheep with a light infestation. To ensure that lice do not spread to other mobs of sheep, keep the mobs separate during the agistment period. See lice infestations on cattle and prevent sheep lice with biosecurity and planning for more information.

Intestinal parasites

Although not an immediate concern given the damage and loss associated with a fire, if agisting stock from a fire-affected property, it is advisable to drench stock as they arrive at the agistment property (i.e. during their quarantine period) and again on their return home. See the Wormboss website for more information.

Feeding agisted livestock

Supplementary feeding of agisted stock should be introduced gradually. Grain feeding should be slowly introduced to prevent grain overload (acidosis). The safest feed for all classes of stock on arrival is good quality hay.

Cattle – especially when hungry or introduced to new pastures – are particularly susceptible to grazing toxic plants. We recommend feeding hay to agisted stock before turning into new pastures, and then monitor the animals closely. See supplementary feeding and feed budgeting of sheep and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries beef cattle feeding and nutrition page for more information.

Recording livestock movements when agisting after fire

When moving livestock to or from agistment, use a valid waybill and record the movement on the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database. Owners without a waybill book can apply for an emergency permit to move livestock when there is an urgent need.

DPIRD Livestock Biosecurity staff can assist with property identification codes (PICs) and NLIS database questions.

Acknowledgement: The contents of this factsheet were adapted from the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries.