Skip to content

Clean up your farm to avoid losses from residues

Something as simple as a battery left under a tree could result in your livestock being detained from sale on farm and potentially, if sold to a processor, could threaten Australia’s valuable domestic and overseas meat markets.

A recent increase in reports of lead poisoning in cattle around the Northern Tablelands region has highlighted the economic impact of such incidents. The direct losses of stock through illness and deaths can be further compounded by the costs associated with laboratory testing and reduced management flexibility when livestock are detained on-farm.

Cattle are naturally curious animals and are attracted to the taste of salt. Lead acid batteries often have lead salt residues on or around them. Animals will lick the batteries and often fight over them, pushing the batteries around. With time the plastic battery cases can become brittle and will easily break. Once broken open the cattle will chew and swallow the lead pieces.

This may be lethal to the stock with producers often reporting that the bigger, stronger or more dominant animals are those that are found dead. A sub-lethal dose of lead can result in elevated blood and tissue levels that will make stock chemically affected and unfit for slaughter until these levels decline.

Small pieces of lead can lodge in the animal’s stomach and be continually absorbed so it can take years for their lead levels to decline. Stock remain in detention during that time. An NLIS warning status will be applied to the property identification code the stock are located on, requiring checking every time stock are sold.

These potential impacts can be avoided by simple, cost effective management practices:

  1. Look around and clean up your farm
  2. Always securely store and dispose of farm chemicals, rubbish and batteries at a registered disposal or recycle site or council tip
  3. Pick up the old battery when you replace one and ensure stock are kept away from any batteries being used as power sources for fencing

Use your farm biosecurity plan to identify any areas of risk. This is particularly important when purchasing new properties with an unknown history. Keep stock away from farm chemical storages, workshops, sheds, old house sites, farm rubbish dumps and chemical wash down areas.

Consumers have a reasonable expectation that our livestock products are safe for consumption. All producers have a shared responsibility to make sure they produce a livestock product fit to enter the food chain.

For more information on residues and managing the risk of residues on your farm, contact your Northern Tablelands Local Land Services District Veterinarian on 02 6732 8800.

Media contact: Annabelle Monie, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services 02 6720 8317, 0429 626 326,