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Poisonings

The main potential sources of poisonings for livestock on-farm are veterinary chemical overdoses and toxic plants.

Chemicals

  • Veterinary chemicals and drugs used to treat animals.
  • Chemical residues on fodder crops or pastures.
  • Old dip sites and yards.
  • Waste (machinery, batteries and discarded chemical containers) left lying around on farms.

Veterinary chemicals and drugs used to treat animals

Before treating livestock with veterinary chemicals or drugs it is important to:

  • read the label thoroughly
    • veterinary chemicals are tested rigorously and have safety margins to allow for reasonable human error. Poisoning is usually the result of gross overdosing.
  • note label restrictions
    • particular notice should be taken of statements that preclude the use of that drug or chemical at the same time as another drug or chemical
    • statements may also preclude the use of that drug or chemical 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
    • the usual advice is to drench all animals at the dose for the heaviest animals. If the animals vary greatly in live weight it may be necessary to group the animals by weight range and treat appropriately. This will limit selection for drench resistance
  • humans are vulnerable to poisoning by veterinary and agricultural chemicals
    • follow all label instructions regarding safety precautions, personal protective equipment (PPE), withholding periods (WHPs), export slaughter intervals (ESI) and re-handling intervals
  • follow any specific instructions provided by veterinarians.

If livestock are to be sold, record the appropriate treatment information and include on the LPA NVD/Waybill.

Dispose of empty containers and unused products 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 and pastures are a problem because of the potential for residues in carcases at slaughter.

Follow pesticide and other chemical label directions for grazing intervals when treating pastures or crops to be used for livestock feed.  If livestock are to be sold, record the appropriate chemical treatment information and include on the LPA NVD/Waybill.

If buying in feed or fodder, always ask for a Commodity Vendor Declaration.

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 that livestock cannot access them.

Wherever possible, these areas should be remediated as arsenic and DDT residues can be present at old cattle dip yards.

Farm waste

Waste should not be left lying around on farms, particularly in areas that can be accessed by livestock. Farm waste such as old batteries can be a source of poisoning for livestock. Farm waste also has the potential to contaminate the environment, including water courses.

Dispose of farm waste off-farm in accordance with local council requirements, or within a dedicated and properly maintained farm waste disposal site.