As the sun shines on another day, we have now all had an opportunity to assess the damage left behind by our unwelcome friend, Debbie! The crop damage is certainly one thing that is being felt hard by farmers. Another thing is those farmers that have also lost livestock, or found livestock wandering around on their property!

For those that have lost livestock, it is horrible to think the worst has happened to them and many would be still hoping to find them fit and well on a neighboring property or somewhere down stream.

If you have lost or found stray livestock, then it is worth mentioning the ways and means you can go about trying to ensure they return home safely (if at all possible).

The departments you should be contacting immediately to notify of lost or found stock are as follows:

  • The Mackay Regional Council;
  • RSPCA on 1300 852 188 or 1300 ANIMAL (264 625), and
  • Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23.
Hopefully you have your livestock appropriately registered with the Department of Agriculture. The registration system is not only helpful to locate your missing stock, but also is a good way to keep a record of where your stock have been (to aid in the prevention of spreading of diseases or pests).

Under the Bio-Security Act that came into force on 1 July, 2016, it now requires owners of “designated animals” to be a Registered Biosecurity Entity (RBE).

A “designated animal” includes one or more cows, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, alpacas, llamas, horses, donkeys or mules (among other animals).

If you have not already registered and you keep any of the above specified animals, you should immediately register with Biosecurity Queensland.

Even those livestock owners that don’t own the land that they keep their animals on (agistment) must still be registered with the Department of Agriculture.

Once registered, you will receive a property identification code (PIC) which attaches to the land where you keep your animal(s).

For those that already had a PIC before 1 July 2016, you will automatically be registered as an RBE.

Once you have a PIC, you can then purchase devices from the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).

Stray livestock can be identified by reference to brands, ear marks, and NLIS tags (if they are present).

If the brand is clearly marked, you can look up the brands register to see who applied the brand ( However, this may not be the current owner. If more than one brand is present, this could mean the animal has been cross branded and the second brand (usually lower in position) could be the current owner. However because cross branding is not compulsory, the evidence from the brand is not always an accurate indication of the current owner.

While a brand is considered evidence of ownership, other evidence, such as sale documents and waybills, may be required to remove any doubt if animals are no longer at their home properties.

Using the NLIS tag to identify the place of residence for stray cattle is also possible. Finders of any stray livestock can contact the Department of Agriculture (13 25 23). A Biosecurity Queensland officer will contact the listed owner and request that they contact the finder.

If the last movement of the animal was not correctly recorded on the Department’s database, the listed owner may be incorrect. It is therefore essential for stock owners to update the Department of any change of ownership promptly after a sale or purchase.

If you find any livestock on your property that don’t belong to you, you are allowed to reasonably restrain them. This has two benefits. One is to prevent them from causing any damage to your property (by destroying crops or fences) and the other is, if you restrain them and report them missing, the owner has more of a hope in finding them and being reunited with them.

If you do attempt to restrain any wandering livestock, you must ensure this is done with care, as the livestock may become aggressive if spooked.

Captured livestock must be kept in an appropriate enclosure – with sufficient room, shelter and access to food and water.

Before moving cattle from the property in which they are found, contact the local biosecurity inspector to check if there are any restrictions on the movement of the cattle.

Whilst all local governments in the region have the legal power to impound stray livestock, most do not in practice have the facilities or equipment to keep these large animals. Mackay Regional Council, Isaac Regional Council and Whitsunday Regional Council do not have any ability to take delivery of stray livestock.

Contact your local veterinarian regarding sick or injured animals. Animals found in extreme distress should not be allowed to suffer. Contact your local veterinarian for advice.

If you need assistance on any rural law issues, please contact one of our friendly team.