Ruminant feed ban

Page last updated: Monday, 7 May 2018 - 3:00pm

In Australia it is illegal to feed animal matter to cattle, sheep, goats, deer, alpacas and other ruminant animals. These restrictions are a key part of Australia's ruminant feed ban.

The ruminant feed ban helps keep Australia free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease), which supports Australia's livestock industries to trade internationally and helps maintain human health in Australia.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is responsible for enforcing the ruminant feed ban in Western Australia.

Why is the ruminant feed ban important?

The Australian ruminant feed ban was implemented in 1997 to minimise the possibility that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) would be transmitted by ruminant feed if the disease entered Australia. Ruminants include cattle, sheep, goats, deer, alpacas and llamas.

Australia is internationally recognised as having the lowest possible risk status for BSE that can be assigned to a country (negligible BSE risk status). Without an effective ruminant feed ban, Australia could not achieve this favourable status.

The negligible risk status helps Australia's livestock industries to access overseas markets for Australian livestock and livestock products.

The ruminant feed ban also helps to protect human health as BSE can occasionally be transmitted to humans.

What does the ruminant feed ban involve?

  • Animal matter (called ‘restricted animal material’, RAM) must not be used in ruminant diets.
  • Manufactured stockfeed must be labelled with a statement specifying whether it contains RAM or is free of RAM (a ‘RAM statement’).
  • Feed for ruminants must be stored so it does not come into contact with RAM.
  • Producers must prevent ruminants accessing RAM.

In Western Australia, these requirements are prescribed in the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Agriculture Standards) Regulations 2013 (the regulations). Copies of the regulations are available from the State Law Publisher.

What is restricted animal material (RAM)?

RAM is any material that consists of, or contains, matter from an animal, including fish and birds. RAM does not include gelatine, milk or milk products. Tallow and used cooking oil are not RAM if they have been processed to the standard approved in the regulations.

Examples of RAM include:

  • meat
  • all animal meals such as meat and bone, blood, poultry offal and feather meals
  • any feed that contains animal meal, such as:
    • poultry feed including chicken, duck and turkey feed
    • pig feed
    • pet food
  • manure or litter from pigs and poultry
  • organic fertilisers such as blood and bone, mushroom compost, compost made with animal matter.

Only feeds that do not contain RAM are suitable for ruminants.

What are your responsibilities?

Livestock producers

  • Look for the RAM statement on all manufactured stockfeed you buy. It should be on the bag (packaged feed) or delivery docket (bulk feed).
  • If the statement indicates the feed contains RAM, you must prevent ruminants accessing the feed.
  • You must store feed for ruminants so that it cannot come into contact with RAM.
  • You must not feed by-products or any material containing RAM to ruminants.
  • You must keep pig and poultry feeds containing RAM separate from ruminant feed to avoid contamination.
  • Chicken litter and blood and bone fertiliser contain RAM. You must not feed these and other organic fertilisers to ruminants and you should prevent ruminants accessing them. Keep ruminants out of paddocks dressed with these materials for at least three weeks after spreading. Read the organic fertiliser webpage for more information.
  • If you manufacture your own feed, you must ensure it cannot be contaminated with RAM.
  • If you produce and sell manufactured stockfeed, you must attach the appropriate RAM statement as described below.

Read more in the producer pamphlet (pdf) and checklist (pdf) produced by Animal Health Australia.

Stockfeed manufacturers

  • Label all manufactured stockfeed with the appropriate RAM statement (see wording and size requirements below).
  • Ensure manufactured stockfeed for ruminants does not contain RAM.
  • Ensure there is no opportunity for stored ruminant feed to come into contact with RAM.

Read more in the manufacturer pamphlet (pdf) produced by Animal Health Australia.

Stockfeed retailers

  • Check all stockfeed supplied by manufacturers and ensure they are correctly labelled with the appropriate RAM statement (see wording below).
  • Look for the RAM label on all poultry, emu and pig feeds as these products often contain restricted animal material.
  • Return inappropriately labelled material to the manufacturer.
  • If you sell manufactured stockfeed with missing or incomplete RAM statements, both you and the manufacturer could be prosecuted.
  • If you re-bag manufactured stockfeed, you must:
    • label all packages with the appropriate RAM statement  as described below, and
    • make sure there is no opportunity for products containing RAM, such as meat meal or poultry pellets, to contaminate ruminant feeds.

Read more in the retailer pamphlet (pdf) produced by Animal Health Australia.

Contact information

Katie Webb
+61 (0)8 9780 6255