Home Australia Is this government decision on earmarking and branding a gift for rustlers?

Is this government decision on earmarking and branding a gift for rustlers?

Is this government decision on earmarking and branding a gift for rustlers?

A Pilbara pastoralist has warned a cross to make earmarking and branding optional in Western Australia may leave the trade vulnerable to inventory theft and biosecurity breaches.

Key components:

  • Early next year, the WA government will stay compulsory earmarking and branding
  • Authorities are striking extra faith in the National Farm animals Identification System
  • The decision follows a contemplate whereby 65 per cent of participants supported the proposal

    Early Newspaper

This week, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Construction (DPIRD) sent a letter to cattle and sheep producers that said legislation that at the moment made it mandatory for producers to mark and brand inventory would be amended early next year. 

In the correspondence, DPIRD product integrity manager Brad McCormick said the change had been approved by Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan after consultation with WA producers and trade stakeholders in late 2020.

“The decision follows finalisation of the DPIRD consultation chronicle, which confirmed the majority (64%) of the 574 respondents to the consultation contemplate supported the proposal for each sheep and cattle,” he said.

Northern pastoralists disappointed

Lance Coppin from Muccan Station, 68 kilometres north-east of Marble Bar, said many northern pastoralists have been deeply concerned by the announcement.

“The rural crime squad must be pulling their hair out honest now,” he said.

A photo of a cow with a damaged ear after its tag has forcibly been removed.

Cattle thieves have been known to forcibly steal a tag from an animal’s ear. (

Equipped: WA Police


The concerns come now now not long after the state’s largest cattle rustling ring was uncovered by WA Police, leading to seven other folks charged with the theft and sale of 803 cattle valued at $800,000 from properties across the north-west.

Authorities place confidence in NLIS

Earmarking and branding started extra than 100 years ago as a permanent way to identify livestock possession.

Since 1999, the National Farm animals Identification System (NLIS) has been rolled out across Australia.

The gadget requires cattle, sheep and goats to have a NLIS tag or electronic machine fitted to track movements via the provision chain.

The department’s chronicle said a majority of sheep producers felt NLIS was a well-established gadget and additional forms of identification had change into redundant.

Nonetheless, cattle trade groups, along with the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association, didn’t enhance the proposal.

Ear tag

A NLIS tag helps track inventory movements via the provision chain to make certain biosecurity and food safety.(

Matt Brann: ABC Rural


Mr Coppin agreed it’d be a mistake to steal necessities for permanent identifiers savor earmarks and brands in livestock traceability programs.

“The NLIS is a plastic tag that goes in the ear,” he said.

Most states around Australia have launched optional earmarking and branding. Some countries have been banned the practice. 

The department’s consultation paper flagged an increasing alternative of producers using pain aid to administer the tags. 

Concerns along the provision chain

Mr Coppin said a decision to make the approach optional affected the complete provide chain.

“It can affect you whenever you happen to are neighbouring with anyone who chooses now now not to and there’s confusion about livestock identification [and] it affects all people in a biosecurity pandemic when the NLIS gadget fails,” he said.

“It’s now not moral producers. We’re talking agents, government regulatory other folks, transporters, exporters.

“The total provide chain is affected whenever you happen to make it weaker with a discouraged livestock identification gadget.”

A lady leaning against pole

Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan.(

ABC Rural: Courtney Fowler


Changes come into achieve early 2022

The Department said it recognised earmarks and brands would continue to play an important role for many in the livestock trade.

They celebrated there had now now not been a significant increase in inventory theft in jurisdictions where the practise had been deregulated.

Till the changes are legislated next year, sheep and cattle owners must continue to earmark or brand.

Currently, an NLIS machine only must be applied before cattle leave the property.

Beneath the fresh regulations, owners shall be required to apply an NLIS machine to their cattle by six months of age in the South West or at 18 months in the pastoral regions.

Is this government decision on earmarking and branding a gift for rustlers?