Ovine Observer

New WA NLIS Sheep and Goat Advisory Group established

Beth Green, DPIRD Bunbury, WA

Author correspondence:

On Thursday, 11 November 2021, 31 people attended the first meeting of the Western Australian National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) Sheep and Goat Advisory Group at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), in South Perth. Attendees represented every sector of the sheep and goat industries, WA farming organisations, Pastoralists and Graziers Association and WAFarmers, and WA members of national peak councils, Sheep Producers Australia and Wool Producers Australia.

The group was convened because of growing national discussions to enhance traceability of all livestock, to better support the long-term health and prosperity of our industry and access to markets. This involves addressing recommendations put to the National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) by industry and government, through SAFEMEAT*, to:

  • Invest in a movement database for all Foot and Mouth Disease-susceptible (cloven-hooved) livestock species.
  • Mandate individual electronic identification (eID) for all livestock, beginning with sheep and goats, and
  • Ensure equitable cost-sharing for the system. 

The Advisory Group’s Chair, Beth Green, Manager of Livestock Identification and Traceability in WA for DPIRD, opened with the purpose of the group:

  • To review, monitor and identify areas for development, and assess options for improvement in traceability across the sheep and goat supply line for all commercial and non-commercial operators.
  • To provide engagement and discussion with DPIRD for the path forward in WA, and
  • To discuss the strategic and operational issues relating to enhanced identification and movement recording to support our markets and disease response.

Following peak industry support through SAFEMEAT* for the introduction of mandatory eID for sheep and goats in Australia, NBC support had also been reached, but any decision on when and how to implement eID has not yet been made. Further work on developing cost estimates and funding agreements are required before a national decision is considered by agriculture ministers.

The ‘how’ in WA can be influenced by this Advisory Group. WA industry experience and leadership will be required to guide the development of future planning for any transition to eID. Research into the most appropriate infrastructure, policy discussion and provision of ongoing technical support and training, underpinned by adequate funding, will be needed to manage the transition well.

DPIRD commissioned a consultancy by ACIL Allen to review the lessons learnt from Victoria’s move to mandatory eID in sheep and goats. A second report is underway to investigate the infrastructure needed throughout the supply chain to generate a realistic cost estimate – from tagging on property to slaughter or loading onto ships. These reports will be shared with the Advisory Group and allow WA to learn from the Victorian experience and develop funding proposals based on a credible and informed design.

Any move to eID must maintain or improve flow rate of stock, have technical capability for at least 99% traceability, and provide WA with an accurate understanding of costs to ensure adequate implementation funding, with minimal disruption.

Moving towards eID will be a significant part of the Advisory Group’s agenda. However, tag type is not the whole system and improvements in the existing system can be identified and resolved now, to contribute to enhanced traceability. 

Producer and WA Farmers representative, David Slade, supported the need for enhanced traceability stating, “Industry needs to be accountable to our markets and maintain credibility of production and traceability claims for food safety.”

WA Chief Veterinary Officer, Michelle Rodan, explained that traceability through the sheep and goat supply chains is critical. Australia’s ability to manage disease is dependent on how rapidly it can be traced, which is critical for providing assurances to our markets. If our traceability data is credible, WA has the potential to zone off from the rest of Australia in the event of a disease outbreak.

In WA, the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management (Identification and Movement of Stock and Apiaries) Regulations 2013 (BAM [IMSA] regulations) outline the requirements for:

  • Owner registration
  • Property identification
  • Stock identification
  • Waybills, and
  • Recording stock movements on the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database. 

These components work together to create a system of collecting traceability data. Adherence to the regulations at all points of stock movement ensures the data is accessible and accurate, in preparation for a future emergency response. Locating missing data or responding in its absence will slow a response, which could exacerbate the losses and down time. With the impact of Covid-19, this has become acutely familiar to everyone.

The backbone of traceability through the NLIS is the requirement for the destination owner/receiver to record the movement of stock to their property on the NLIS database. Many producers are not aware of the NLIS database, nor their responsibilities to record livestock movements onto their Property Identification Code (PIC), even if they own both PICs (unless purchased from a saleyard, in which case the saleyard will do it for them).

At the meeting, discussion from participants of each sector focused on identifying the current friction points in the industry, how to improve the flow rate of stock within each location, and how to improve the accuracy of the data.

The following are issues for all of industry:

  • National Vendor Declaration (NVD)/waybills are regularly incomplete or illegible at all destinations.
  • Using the electronic NVD/waybill helps with legibility and completeness.
  • The use of electronic NVD/waybill has suffered problems with destination addresses, correct destination PICs, accurate tallies, and the need to sign three times, and some transport operators are not yet comfortable with them.
  • The NLIS database is difficult to use for people who do not use it regularly.
  • More extension is required for both NVD/waybills and NLIS database use.
  • Missing or worn/unreadable tags required for tagging at export depots/feedlots and saleyards.
  • Expired brand registrations and consequently Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) accreditation, and old NVD versions are time-consuming to follow up on, and
  • Counting discrepancies of animal numbers between producer, NVD/waybill, saleyards, transporters, and processors.

This initial meeting was more of a workshop, as it established the baseline operating processes and hindrances, and established the current national position. Future meetings will be structured to cover prioritising and improving current components, planning, and taking a strategic view on how traceability fits within the bigger production picture.

The next meeting will be in late February/early March 2022. For further information, please contact Jemma Thomas at Katanning DPIRD on M: 0459 850 569 or at E:; or contact your industry sector representative:

Industry sector representatives


Sheep Producers Australia

Liz Jackson, Bindi Murray

Wool Producers Australia

Steve McGuire

Pastoralists and Graziers Association

Digby Stretch, Ian Randles


David Slade, Jess Wallace

Dairy Goats Society of Australia (WA)

Dave Robinson

WA Goat Meat Industry Council

Trevor Bunce

Grower Group Alliance

Alison Lacey

Stud breeder 

Allan Hobley

WAMIA, Muchea Saleyards

Steve Wainewright, Liam Birken

Katanning Saleyards

Rod Bushell

Processor sector 

Cam Ferris (Hillside Processing)

Export sector

Harold Sealy

Feedlot sector

Alan Garstone, Hannah Matthews

Livestock Agents

Don Morgan (AWN)


Grant Lupton (Nutrien)


Mike Curnick (Elders)


Gerald Wetherell (West Coast Wool and Livestock)


Jan Cooper (ALRTA(WA))

*SAFEMEAT membership

SAFEMEAT industry members (peak councils)

Government members


Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF)

State Food Authority Representative

Animal Health Australia (AHA)

Australian Live Export Corporation (ALEC)

Agriculture Victoria

Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association (ALPA)

Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA)

Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Australian Livestock Markets Association (ALMA)

Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC)

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, TAS

Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters’ Association (ALRTA)

Australian Pork Limited (APL)

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, WA

Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC)

Cattle Council of Australia (CCA)

Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, NT

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)

Goat Industry Council of Australia (GICA)

NSW Department of Primary Industries

Australian Renderers’ Association

Sheep Producers Australia (SPA)

Primary Industries and Regions SA

Dairy Australia


QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Integrity Systems Company (ISC)



Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia



Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA)



Stock Feed Manufacturers Council of Australia



Wool Producers Australia (WPA)