Ruminant feed ban

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 Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) is responsible for enforcing the ruminant feed ban in WA.

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.

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Contact information

Katie Webb
+61 (0)8 9780 6255
Page last updated: Thursday, 4 May 2017 - 4:17pm