Cattle Health Declarations will eventually be attached to every sale

Rachael O’Brien, Manager Biosecurity & Extension, Queensland says is no time for fence sitting as to cattle health risks

The Cattle Health Declaration is currently gaining significant exposure for producers to address biosecurity concerns. It’s a document that allows producers to make an assessment of cattle prior to purchase as to the risk they may pose.

The Cattle Health Declaration is starting to be requested by producers buying cattle from studs and through saleyards. For many producers biosecurity is a new concept so it’s understandable that many producers have questions about the cattle health declaration.

The Cattle Health Declaration can assist producers in assessing the biosecurity risks of new stock being introduced to your property. It’s designed to be used when animals are being bought and sold.

It is separate to the National Vendor Declaration waybill (NVD) because the questions on the NVD relate primarily to food safety, whereas the Cattle Health Declaration is animal health related.

Producers should request a Cattle Health Declaration to gather further information relevant to the health of their new purchases or incoming agistment stock. This helps producers manage the health of incoming animals as well as their existing herd.

When selling cattle it is recommended that you send a Cattle Health Declaration along with your sale cattle in most instances. If a person requests a Cattle Health Declaration then you should provide one.

Buyers actively managing animal health, participating in Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) or trading in Johne’s disease sensitive markets are likely going to want this document.

If you are participating in J-BAS you should send and request this document as part of your risk assessment. Requesting this document when you buy cattle can provide additional information such as J-BAS level or if there is an increased risk of infection in the animals you are looking to buy. Having this information gives you the opportunity to manage the risk of Johne’s disease in incoming animals.

The Cattle Health Declaration is not mandatory unless your cattle are Northern Territory bound. This is an entry requirement of the Northern Territory Government. If you do not send this document with your cattle they will not be able to move into the Northern Territory until one is completed.

If you don’t provide a Cattle Health Declaration to buyers who require them to move the cattle after sale you could be limiting your markets.

If your cattle are going straight to the abattoir or to a feedlot, you will probably find they will not request a Cattle Health Declaration. The Declaration is for herd health management. Feedlots and abattoirs are more concerned with food safety issues so will want an NVD.

Cattle Health Declarations are available online at the Farm Biosecurity website. Producers should answer the questions honestly. You do not need to test for any of the diseases on the cattle health declaration but if you have done in the past you should describe your results on the form.

Producers are making a declaration when filling out a Cattle Health Declaration. When the form asks for specific vaccinations or treatments it is asking if you have applied anything to the animals travelling to sale in the last six months.

If you are participating in J-BAS you should describe your J-BAS status in Question 6. Whilst the form says optional, it refers to the scheme of J-BAS being optional. If you have a J-BAS score you should record your score.

Cattle Health Declarations are available online at the Farm Biosecurity website

This table is a quick reference guide on when to use a Cattle Health Declaration