Farmers warned over incorrect identification

29 Nov, 2011 02:00 AM
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Cattle were sent home from last week's Mt Barker sales because they weren't earmarked properly.
Cattle were sent home from last week's Mt Barker sales because they weren't earmarked properly.

CATTLE producers are being warned that they could face a $5000 fine if cattle are sent to sales with incorrect or no earmarks.

The warning comes after cattle were sent home from last week's Mt Barker trade sale because they weren't earmarked properly.

Under WA legislation all cattle must be identified with a registered brand or a registered earmark by six months of age or before they leave their property of birth.

In pastoral areas of the State the cattle must be earmarked or branded by 18 months of age or before they leave the property, whichever occurs first.

Great Southern Saleyards manager Stewart Smith said while the numbers of cattle sent home hadn't been that significant given the numbers going through the yards, producers still needed to be vigilant.

"We have probably only had 80 or so in the last month," he said.

"It's mainly an issue for traceability, if the animal has any issues or disease it can be tracked and traced back to where it came from.

"Often it happens that one will accidentally slip through the system at marking time, particularly if you have large volumes of cattle.

"I don't think farmers are intentionally not marking cows, most people are really on to it but they just need to be reminded because it is a hassle and can be costly for them having to arrange to get the cows taken home again, and then there is the possibility that you could be fined."

Department of Agriculture and Food's Livestock Compliance Unit inspector John Barden said farmers risked a maximum penalty of $5000 and jail time for an offence.

He said while this was rarely enforced, the unit had the ability to do so.

"Often a letter is sent for the first offence explaining to farmers that they are now on the department's database and if it happens again further action may follow," he said.

"Really it comes down to a security thing. Farmers just need to be on top of this so their animals can be tracked and really ensure all cattle are marked correctly especially with export standards getting tougher."

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