Chemical poisonings of livestock on-farm can be from a number of sources, including:
- Veterinary chemicals and drugs used to treat animals.
- Chemical residues on fodder crops or pastures.
- Old dip sites and yards.
- Waste (machinery, batteries, used chemical containers) left lying around on farms.
Veterinary chemicals and drugs used to treat animals
Prior to treating livestock with veterinary chemicals or drugs, livestock producers should:
- Read the label thoroughly.
- Note label restrictions, particularly if they contain statements that preclude the use of that drug or chemical at the same time as another drug or chemical or in a particular class of animal.
- Read and follow all label directions for dose rates. For chemicals or drugs that include dose rate tables based on body weight, weigh a representative sample of the mob being treated. It may be necessary to group the animals by weight range and treat appropriately.
- Follow all label instructions regarding safety precautions, personal protective equipment, withholding periods (WHPs), export slaughter intervals (ESI) and re-handling intervals.
- Follow any specific instructions provided by veterinarians.
- Record the appropriate treatment information and include on the LPA NVD/Waybill if the livestock are sold.
- Dispose of empty containers and unused product according to label directions and in a way that means livestock do not have access to them.
Chemical residues on fodder crops and pastures
Chemical residues on fodder crops are a problem because of the potential for residues in carcases at slaughter.
When pastures or crops, that will subsequently be grazed by or fed to livestock, are treated with pesticides or other chemicals, any label directions for re-grazing intervals should be strictly followed. Record the appropriate chemical treatment information and include on the LPA NVD/Waybill if the livestock are sold.
If buying in feed or fodder, producers should always ask for a Commodity Vendor Declaration, Fodder Vendor Declaration or By-product Vendor Declaration from the supplier.
Waste on farms
Waste should not be left lying around on farms, particularly sites that can be accessed by livestock. Farm waste eg old batteries, can be a source of poisonings for livestock. Farm waste also has the potential to contaminate the environment, including water courses.
Farm waste should be disposed of off-farm according to local council requirements or within a dedicated and properly maintained farm waste disposal site.
Old dip sites and yards
The soil around old dip sites and yards is often contaminated with a variety of chemicals. If livestock have access to these areas, residues of these chemicals may be present at slaughter.
Contaminated old dip sites and yards should be securely fenced so livestock cannot access them.
Wherever possible, these areas should be remediated.