Ruminant feed ban

Page last updated: Thursday, 5 August 2021 - 5:48pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

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

This ban helps keep Australia free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease), which supports our livestock industries to trade internationally and helps to maintain both human and animal health. 

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

Requirements of the ruminant feed ban

The requirements are as follows:

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

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 legislation.wa.gov.au.

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.

BSE is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects cattle, for which there is no treatment or vaccine. BSE is spread when cattle are fed manufactured animal feed that includes animal material containing the BSE protein.

Australia is internationally recognised as having the lowest possible risk status for BSE that can be assigned to a country (negligible BSE risk status). The ruminant feed ban is critical to 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 is restricted animal material?

Restricted animal material is any material that consists of, or contains, matter from a vertebrate animal, including fish and birds. It does not include gelatine, milk or milk products.

Examples of restricted animal material include:

  • meat and offal
  • rendered animal meals such as meat, blood, meat and bone, poultry, fish and feather meals
  • any feed that contains one or more of these animal meals, 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.

Tallow and used cooking oil are not considered restricted animal material if they have been processed to the specifications outlined in the regulations, and as detailed in the National Standard for Recycling of Used Cooking Fats and Oils Intended for Animal Feeds, published by the Australian Renderers Association.

Only feeds that do not contain restricted animal material are allowed to be fed to ruminants.

What are your responsibilities?

Livestock producers

  • Do not feed restricted animal material to ruminants.
  • Look for the restricted animal material statement on all manufactured stockfeed you buy. It should be on the bag for packaged feed or delivery docket for bulk feed.
  • If the statement indicates the feed contains restricted animal material, you must prevent ruminants accessing the feed.
  • You must store feed for ruminants so that it cannot come into contact with restricted animal material.
  • You must keep pig and poultry feeds containing restricted animal material separate from ruminant feed to avoid contamination.
  • You must not allow ruminants access to chicken litter, blood and bone or any other type of organic fertilisers, or pig and poultry manure, as they contain restricted animal material. Keep ruminants out of paddocks dressed with these materials for at least three weeks after spreading. Read the chicken litter and organic fertiliser webpage for more information.
  • If you manufacture your own feed, you must ensure it is not, and cannot be, contaminated with restricted animal material.
  • If you produce and sell manufactured stockfeed, you must attach the appropriate restricted animal material 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 restricted animal material statement (see Stockfeed labelling and the ruminant feed ban below for requirements).
  • Ensure manufactured stockfeed for ruminants does not contain restricted animal material.
  • Ensure there is no opportunity for stored ruminant feed to come into contact with restricted animal material.

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 restricted animal material statement (see Stockfeed labelling and the ruminant feed ban below).
  • Look for the restricted animal material 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 restricted animal material 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 restricted animal material, such as meat meal or poultry pellets, to contaminate ruminant feeds.

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

    Stockfeed labelling and the ruminant feed ban

    What is a restricted animal material statement?

    A restricted animal material statement specifies whether stockfeed contains, or is free of restricted animal material. The statement is used so a buyer can tell if the feed contains restricted animal material and is appropriate feed their stock.

    For packaged feed, the restricted animal material statement must be printed on the container or be on a label attached to the container. For feed sold loose, including bulka bags, the restricted animal material statement must be printed on the delivery docket.

    Bulka bags used to supply feed containing restricted animal material should have a permanent restricted animal material statement printed on the bag to ensure the bag is not re-used for ruminant feed.

    Restricted animal material statement wording

    If the stockfeed contains restricted animal material, it is required to be labelled with this statement:
    “This product contains restricted animal material – DO NOT FEED TO CATTLE, SHEEP, GOATS, DEER OR OTHER RUMINANTS.”

    If the stockfeed does not contain restricted animal material, it is required to be labelled with this statement:
    “This product does not contain restricted animal material.”

    Restricted animal material statement size

    All restricted animal material statements must be readable and conspicuous.

    For bagged feed:

    • If the restricted animal material statement is printed or stencilled on the feed bag:
      • if the container of feed weighs more than five kilograms, the letters of the restricted animal material statement must be at least 10 millimetres high
      • if the container of feed weighs 5kg or less, the letters of the restricted animal material statement must be at least 3mm high.
    • If the restricted animal material statement is on a label attached to the bag (e.g. sewn-in labels and stuck-on labels):
      • the letters of the restricted animal material statement must be at least 3mm high
      • the label with the restricted animal material statement on must be at least 120mm long by 45mm wide.

      For feed sold loose, including bulka bags:

      • The restricted animal material statement must be on the delivery docket and the letters must be at least 3mm high.

      When does stockfeed require a restricted animal material statement?

      All manufactured stockfeed sold or supplied in WA must be labelled with a restricted animal material statement.

      Manufactured stockfeed means any processed feed, additives, supplements, premixes, stock licks and by-products.

      These requirements do not apply to feed for dogs, cats, aviary birds, aquarium fish, guinea pigs and rodents.

      When can stockfeed be sold without a restricted animal material statement?

      Stockfeed made entirely of basic feed does not require labelling with a restricted animal material statement provided the product name indicates it is made of basic feed. Basic feed is largely unprocessed feed such as grains, seeds, hay and chaff.

      For example, a stockfeed sold under the name ‘lupins’ or ‘chaff’ is clearly made of basic feed, so a restricted animal material statement is not required.

      If the stockfeed contains additives such as molasses, vitamins or mineral mixes, it becomes a manufactured stockfeed and requires a restricted animal material statement.

      Other stockfeed requirements

      As well as the ruminant feed ban labelling, all manufactured stockfeed sold or supplied in WA must have general labelling. Read more on general stockfeed labelling.

      There are some substances that are prohibited from being used in stockfeed, and other substances which cannot exceed maximum limits. Refer to the regulations for more information or contact us.

      Compliance inspections and penalties

      DPIRD conducts regular compliance inspections of stockfeed manufacturers, retailers and livestock producers to ensure the ruminant feed ban requirements are followed.

      Failure to comply with the ruminant feed ban can result in fines of $2000 for each offence.

Contact information

Livestock Biosecurity