Bought a bargain on Facebook? Beware the risks

Rachel Gordon, Livestock Biosecurity Network, 06/09/2016
The internet, and in particular social media, has brought with it a new method of buying and selling livestock.
Buy, swap, and sell groups on sites such as Facebook, or ads on sites such as Gumtree are now a popular way to trade goods, including livestock. (See Beef Central’s recent article on the trend here)

Rachel Gordon, Livestock Biosecurity Network regional manager.

People are easily able to offload livestock that is surplus to requirements, whether it be a mob of sheep or a single poddy calf. It’s quick, efficient and simple.

This ease in trading does come with certain risks though, and it can increase the opportunity for unwanted pests, diseases, and weeds to be inadvertently spread around the country.

In some cases, vendors and buyers are simply unaware of their responsibilities, particularly if they are not used to trading livestock. Perhaps they just want to have a few ‘grass eaters’ in the backyard.

When buying or selling animals in this way, it is important to keep biosecurity at the forefront of your mind. It is also important to be aware of your legal obligations when keeping livestock.

If you are buying any livestock at all, do you have a Property Identification Code (PIC) for where they will be kept? This is a legal requirement even if you only have one animal, such as a horse.

If you are buying cattle, sheep or goats, are they correctly tagged with National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) tags? Is the vendor providing you with accurate NLIS paperwork to ensure you can correctly transfer the animals from their property to yours? Do the NLIS numbers on the paperwork match the numbers on the eartags in the animals’ ears?

Other things to consider when buying livestock is their history. If you are buying cattle, sheep, or goats, ask the vendor to provide a health statement. This is a legal document that provides additional health information with respect to pests and diseases such as lice, footrot, Johne’s disease, ovine brucellosis, caprine arthritis encephalitis, Enzootic Bovine Leucosis, pestivirus, and cattle ticks. It also details health treatments carried out within the previous six months such as drenching, vaccinations, and treatments for external parasites such as lice. Health statements are freely available from the Farm Biosecurity website (

Once you have taken delivery of your animals, and you are satisfied their relevant paperwork is in order, there are a few more practical and easy steps to take to further reduce the risk of pest, disease, and weed spread.

It is important to quarantine any livestock you have purchased, but even more so if you do not know their history. Holding newly arrived animals in yards for 48 hours allows any unwanted weed seeds to pass through their system, reducing the opportunity for weeds to spread about your property.

Additionally, keeping new livestock separate from existing livestock for at least 28 days gives you time to observe any clinical signs of disease that may not have been obvious when you first bought the animals. Ensure that you monitor new stock closely, and phone a vet or the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline (1800 675 888) if you see anything unusual.

Monitor the yards and the paddock in which the animals were quarantined for new weeds germinating so you are able to remove them before they establish.

These simple steps of:

  • using health statements,
  • holding animals in yards on arrival
  • quarantining animals for 28 days
  • monitoring for disease
  • monitoring for weeds
…cost you very little in time and money, but can save you a fortune in both!

Rachel Gordon is the Livestock Biosecurity Network’s regional manager for NSW. She can be contacted or 0488 400 207 or email


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