Code for the Operation of the NLIS in Victoria
A Guide for Producers, Saleyard Operators, Scale Operators and Abattoirs
The Victorian NLIS Implementation Advisory Committee has prepared this Code to provide guidance to industry participants on operational aspects of the NLIS in Victoria particularly in relation to transactions involving NLIS identified cattle moving between properties or to abattoirs, or being traded in saleyards. The code reflects industry best practice and many areas are underpinned by the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.
The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is Australia's system for identifying and tracking beef and dairy cattle for food safety, biosecurity and market access purposes.
The NLIS is being implemented nationally under SAFEMEAT (the national industry/government partnership responsible for developing and implementing food safety policy within the Australian red meat industries). SAFEMEAT reports to the Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC).
SAFEMEAT has appointed the NLIS Executive Committee to develop national policy in relation to the operation of the NLIS. All States/Territories NLIS Implementation Advisory Committees are represented on this Committee.
Victoria’s NLIS Implementation Advisory Committee has prepared this Code to provide guidance to industry participants on operational aspects of the NLIS in Victoria particularly in relation to transactions involving NLIS identified cattle moving between properties or to abattoirs, or being traded in saleyards. The Code reflects industry best practice and many areas are underpinned by the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.
For further information on how to access the NLIS database visit Meat and Livestock Australia’s website at www.mla.com.au, contact MLA’s NLIS Database Helpdesk on 1800 654 743 or send an email to email@example.com.
For further information on the implementation of the NLIS in Victoria, call the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Helpline on 1800 678 779 during business hours.
1.1 NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder devices
a) NLIS Breeder Devices shall be used to identify cattle before they leave their property of birth. NLIS Breeder Devices (white tags) must not be applied to cattle that are no longer on their property of birth.
b) NLIS Post-Breeder Devices (orange tags) shall be used to permanently identify introduced cattle, not already identified with a Breeder or Post-Breeder Device.
c) NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder Devices are available in the form of an ear tag, or an ear tag/rumen bolus combination. With ear tag/rumen bolus combinations, the visually readable NLIS number is printed on a large ear tag (white for NLIS Breeder Devices and orange for NLIS Post-Breeder Devices) along with the letter ‘R’ or word ‘RUMEN’.The bolus contains the microchip. Producers have the option of using NLIS endorsed rumen bolus/ear tag combinations instead of NLIS approved ear tags if they wish.
1.2 Use of NLIS devices
a) NLIS Breeder and Post-Breeder Devices must be attached to the right (off-side) ear, with the component of the Tag containing the microchip placed on the inside of the ear.The ear tag accompanying rumen boluses must be attached to the right (off-side) ear.
b) NLIS Breeder and Post-Breeder Devices purchased for use on one property cannot be applied to cattle located on another property (with a different PIC) without the written authorisation of the Department of Primary Industries.
c) NLIS Breeder and Post-Breeder Devices cannot be sold, given away or reused without the written approval of the Department of Primary Industries.
d) Cattle must only carry one NLIS device, either an NLIS Breeder Device or an NLIS Post-Breeder Device. Never attach a second NLIS tag if an NLIS device is already present.
e) It is the consignor’s responsibility to ensure that all cattle are NLIS identified prior to dispatch to a saleyard, abattoir, scale or another property, or introduction into Victoria. Adult cattle must also be NLIS identified prior to the time of dispatch to a knackery.
f) Cattle that arrive from another property, including following a private sale, as part of a lease agreement or on agistment, and are found not to be identified with an NLIS device must be tagged by the person receiving the cattle using an NLIS Post-Breeder Device issued for use on the receiving property. This must occur within 30 days of the cattle arriving on the receiving property or before the cattle leave this property if this occurs within 30 days of their arrival.
1.3 Removal of NLIS devices
a) NLIS Breeder or Post-Breeder Devices with a functioning microchip must not be removed or damaged in any manner unless the identified beast is being processed in an abattoir or knackery, or unless written approval has first been obtained from the Department of Primary Industries.
b) If an NLIS Tag has a non-functioning microchip, the person in charge of the tagged beast may, if they wish, remove and replace the Tag provided:
- the beast is immediately re-tagged with either an NLIS Breeder Device (if the animal is still on its property of birth) or an NLIS Post-Breeder Device (if the animal has moved from its property of birth), and
- if the replacement tag is a Post-Breeder Device, the NLIS database must be notified within 24 hours of the NLIS number printed on the Tag that has been removed and also the NLIS number on the replacement NLIS Post-Breeder Device.
1.4 Movement reporting by producers
a) The person receiving cattle directly from another property (a property to property movement) must report the movement to the NLIS database within seven days of the arrival of the cattle. Movements are not to be reported prior to the commencement of the movement.
b) The information reported to the database by the producer receiving cattle directly from another property must include;
- NLIS device numbers or microchip numbers
- Property Identification Code (PIC) of the last property of residence
- PIC of the property to which the cattle have been taken
- Valid NVD/Waybill serial number (if provided)
- Date of movement
c) Producers are encouraged to open a database account and register movements electronically.
d) Producers dispatching cattle to another property, feedlot or abattoir may wish to have the cattle leaving their property removed from the list of cattle on their PIC on the NLIS database. In such instances, the producer dispatching the cattle must accurately report to the database the destination PIC.To facilitate this, where cattle are being traded privately on-farm, the person taking possession of the cattle must advise the person dispatching the cattle of the PIC of the next property on which the cattle are to be kept before the cattle are dispatched.
e) Producers are encouraged to report to the database cattle that die or are destroyed on their property.
f) The default PIC of 8As may only be used if it is impossible to establish the PIC of the property to which the cattle have been, or will be taken.The use of the default PIC of 8As will be reported by the database to DPI for auditing purposes.
2. Saleyards (including public scales)
2.1 Scanning at venues where public auctions are conducted and at public scale operations
a) In relation to NLIS identified cattle, saleyard operators must scan the NLIS devices and up-load to the NLIS database the following information:
- NLIS device microchip numbers
- Property Identification Code (PIC) of the last property of residence
- PIC of the next property to which the cattle will be taken
- NVD/waybill serial number (if provided)
- Date of transaction
- Saleyard Identification Code
NB. Other optional information relating to pen number, stock descriptions, lot numbers etc. can also be recorded to assist in managing the data.
b) These requirements in relation to the reading of cattle also apply to public auctions held at other venues including on farms, and to cattle traded through public scale operations. For requirements that apply to private sales or other property-to-property movements or public auctions conducted entirely by electronic means see section 1.4.
c) Saleyard operators are permitted to scan cattle before sale, or alternatively after lots are sold. Saleyard operators, if they wish, may scan cattle more than once.
d) Saleyard operators must read devices of cattle that;
- die while being transported to the saleyard (where the cattle are unloaded at the saleyard),
- die or are destroyed at the saleyard, and
- cattle that are passed in and are to be returned to the property of last residence.
e) For cattle purchased for slaughter, the saleyard must upload the ‘take possession’ file before the cattle leave the saleyard.The ‘sell file’ must be uploaded by no later than close of business the next working day.
f) For store and breeding cattle, the the saleyard must upload the ‘take possession’ and ‘sell files’ by close of business on the next working day.
g) To facilitate tail-tag free trading, some abattoirs may require that saleyards transfer slaughter cattle to their abattoirs PIC (upload the sell file) before the cattle arrive at the abattoir.
2.2 Provision of PIC information at saleyards
a) The purchaser of cattle must, immediately after the purchase, provide the selling agent with the PIC of the next property on which the cattle are to be kept. Agents may provide their Stock Agent PIC or Butcher’s PIC as the case may be if the PIC of the property or abattoir to which purchased cattle will be taken is not known at the time of purchase. In this case and where the cattle have not been slaughtered, the transfer to the destination PIC must be completed by the holder of the Stock Agent PIC or Butcher’s PIC within seven working days of the cattle leaving the saleyard.
b) The selling agent must establish and maintain for seven years an electronic or hard copy record of the vendor and purchaser of cattle.These records should include the PIC of the property from which the cattle were consigned, the PIC provided by the purchaser, names and addresses of the vendor and purchaser, description of livestock including species, age and sex and the date and location of the sale.
c) Where a selling agent does not provide the saleyard operator with the destination PIC for a lot at the conclusion of a sale, the saleyard operator is permitted to transfer the cattle to that selling agent’s Stock Agent PIC.The selling agent, not the saleyard operator, is then responsible for reporting to the NLIS database the PIC/s of the property/ies to which the cattle were taken, in accordance with clause 2.2(a).
d) The default PIC of 8As may only be used if it is impossible to establish the PIC of the property to which cattle have been, or will be taken. The use of the default PIC of 8As will be reported by the database to DPI for investigation.
e) Where a lot is split by the buyer or selling agent after the lot has been read, the buyer or selling agent (as the case may be) is responsible for arranging the re-scanning the lot and promptly reporting to the saleyard manager the destination PICs for each sub-lot.
f) Producers, processors and agents, when purchasing cattle must not quote their property PIC, abattoir PIC or Stock Agent PIC if they know that the cattle will be taken to a holding paddock/property en route. Such paddocks/properties must have their own PIC and this PIC must be provided to the selling agent when cattle are purchased.
g) The person dispatching cattle to a saleyard, scale or abattoir must provide the person receiving the cattle with an NVD or equivalent on which is recorded the PIC of the property from which the cattle were dispatched.
h) The buyer must supply a valid PIC for the property of destination at the completion of the sale.
2.3 Stock Agent PICs and Butchers’ PICs
a) A purchasing agent must supply the selling agent with the PIC of the property or abattoir to which purchased cattle are to be taken if this information is known at the time of purchase. If the PIC of the property or abattoir to which the lot is to be taken is not known by the purchasing agent, he must immediately quote his Stock Agent PIC or Butcher’s PIC as the case may be to the selling agent.
b) A selling agent may provide a saleyard operator with a buyer’s Stock Agent PIC if the buyer is an agent and the PIC of the property to which the cattle are to be taken has not been provided to the selling agent at the time of purchase.The selling agent and the saleyard operator are not responsible for ensuring that the stock agent who has purchased the cattle transfers the cattle on the NLIS database from the Stock Agent PIC to the PIC of the property to which the cattle have been taken.
c) Agents that have a Stock Agent PIC or Butcher’s PIC must establish an account with the NLIS database for the purpose of registering the PIC of the property to which purchased cattle are transferred.
d) Agents must transfer purchased cattle that have not been slaughtered and are registered against their Stock Agent PIC or Butcher’s PIC to the PIC of the property or abattoir to which the cattle are taken within seven working days of the date when the cattle were purchased.
e) Stock Agent PICs and Butcher’s PICs cannot be used to obtain NLIS devices or LPA NVDs.
f) Cattle will lose their EU eligibility if transferred to a Stock Agent PIC or Butcher’s PIC.
2.4 Non-reading NLIS devices
a) Agents can sell cattle that have NLIS devices that cannot be read electronically.
b) Saleyard operators and agents are not required to visually read the NLIS number printed on NLIS devices containing non-functioning microchips.
c) Where a beast has an NLIS device that cannot be read electronically, the selling agent must identify it with a blue emergency tail tag before it leaves the saleyard.The selling agent must record the PIC and serial number on the emergency tail tag used and the PIC of the beast’s last property of residence in the register provided by DPI. For cattle purchased for slaughter, the agent must provide this information in writing to the buyer as part of the post sale summary. The blue emergency tail tag must be attached to cattle with non-reading NLIS tags even where a transaction tag (a normal tail tag or adult ear tag) is already present.
(Victoria’s NLIS Implementation Advisory Committee has recommended that legislation be introduced on 1 July 2008 requiring that Victorian saleyards have in place arrangements for ensuring that cattle with non-reading NLIS tags are retagged or identified with a blue tail tag prior to being offered for sale. Saleyards that currently scan post-sale should review their procedures to ensure that they will be able to comply with this requirement.)
d) There is no requirement on saleyard operators or agents to replace NLIS devices that cannot be read electronically, however saleyard operators may obtain NLIS Post-Breeder Devices (see section 2.8) and use them to replace devices with non-functioning microchips. Use of such Devices for this purpose by saleyard operators or agents is voluntary, and a fee may be set to carry out this service.The NLIS database must be advised of the NLIS number of the device that was removed and the NLIS number or transponder number of the replacement NLIS post-breeder tag by close of business on the next working day.
2.5 Missing NLIS devices
a) If cattle are dispatched to a saleyard or abattoir and are not identified with an NLIS device, the consignor and transporter have potentially committed an offence. This also applies in a situation where there is a single untagged beast in a consignment.
b) Producers may apply to DPI for a permit to transport cattle without NLIS devices where the cattle cannot be safely tagged on farm. Such cattle must be identified with a transaction tag (eg. tail tag) printed with the PIC of dispatch and be accompanied by a correctly completed National Vendor Declaration. Cattle that are dangerous and unsafe to handle should not be sent to a saleyard and should instead move under permit directly to an abattoir or knackery.
c) Saleyard operators must obtain orange NLIS Post-Breeder Devices printed with a number, which incorporates the PIC of the saleyard (see section 2.8) and work cooperatively with the selling agents to identify cattle without NLIS devices before they are sold. Saleyards must have suitable facilities to allow cattle that are not NLIS identified to be safely tagged. A fee may be set to carry out this service.The saleyard manager is responsible for ensuring that accurate records are kept of the use of Post-Breeder Devices issued for use in the saleyard.These records include the serial number on the NLIS device used (or the RFID if scanned), the date the device was used, the PIC from which the beast was consigned and the name & address of the vendor in the register provided by DPI for that purpose.
d) It is an offence for an agent to sell cattle without an NLIS device, for the saleyard manager to allow cattle to leave the yards untagged and for the buyer to remove or arrange to remove an untagged animal from a saleyard.
e) Bulls that have been sent to the saleyard legally under permit (or illegally without a permit) that cannot physically be tagged (eg too large for the crush) must go for slaughter and be identified with a blue tail tag before being sold.The selling agent must record the PIC and serial number on the tail tag used and the PIC of the beast’s last property of residence in the register provided by DPI.
2.6 Bobby calves
a) All live bobby calves must be identified with an NLIS Breeder Tag before leaving their property of birth whether moving to another property, a saleyard or an abattoir.The consignor must supply to the person receiving the calves a correctly completed bobby calf vendor declaration or equivalent on which is recorded the PIC of the property from which the calves are dispatched.
b) Dead bobby calves being dispatched to a knackery may be identified with a bobby calf ear tag or tail-tag that is printed with the PIC of the property of dispatch.
2.7 Disclosure of relevant information
a) Where a presale scan and/or NLIS status check occurs, the saleyard operator must inform the selling agent and potential buyers if the lot or cattle in the lot are;
- Identified with an NLIS device that cannot be read electronically, or
- Accompanied by an NVD that contains information not verified as accurate by the NLIS database
b) A presale announcement by the selling agent or the availability of a presale catalogue recording accurately relevant information is considered sufficient notification. A buyer is not entitled to discount the purchase price after the fall of the hammer of a lot described in 2.7 (a) if adequate presale disclosure has occurred.
c) Where post sale scanning occurs, the saleyard must immediately check on the NLIS database whether statuses apply to the PIC of last residence or to any NLIS identified cattle in the lot, including the lifetime traceable status.
d) Where post sale reading occurs, the saleyard operator must immediately inform the selling agent and the buyer if the lot or cattle in the lot are;
- Identified with an NLIS device that cannot be read electronically, or
- Accompanied by an NVD that contains information not verified as accurate by the NLIS database
2.8 Use of NLIS Devices in saleyards
a) Saleyard operators or authorized personnel must obtain and use orange NLIS Post-Breeder Devices printed with a number, which incorporates the PIC of the saleyard, on all cattle that arrive without an NLIS tag.
b) A condition of the use of NLIS Post-Breeder Devices is that the saleyard operator must record and report to the database the PIC of the property from which the cattle were consigned (as recorded on the accompanying NVD), the PIC to which the cattle are to be taken and the NLIS number/s printed on the Post-Breeder Device/s (or microchip numbers) used.
c) Any fee associated with the tagging of cattle in saleyards is a matter to be determined by the saleyard operator.
d) Producers are not permitted to identify their cattle at a saleyard with NLIS devices that were issued for use on their property. Only NLIS Post-Breeder Devices issued for use at a saleyard, and printed with a number incorporating the saleyard’s PIC, may be used to tag cattle at a saleyard.
2.9 Tagging of cattle by stock agents
a) Agents are able to attach NLIS devices to cattle on behalf of a producer but only on the producer’s property using NLIS devices issued for use on that property.
b) Agents are not permitted to transport their client’s NLIS devices to a saleyard, with the intention of attaching these devices to cattle at the saleyard.
c) Saleyard NLIS Post-Breeder devices can be applied by either the stock agent selling the cattle or by saleyard staff. Both groups need to work cooperatively to ensure that cattle without NLIS identification are tagged before they are sold.
2.10 Agent invoices
Invoices issued to buyers by the selling agent should ideally include, where applicable;
a) Lot Number (if applicable)
b) Number of cattle in lot
c) Number of cattle successfully scanned and transferred
d) PIC supplied by the vendor on the accompanying NVD
e) PIC supplied by buyer
f) NVD serial No.
3.1 Reading of non-functioning ear tags
At slaughter, processors will manually enter the NLIS number (printed on each NLIS device) if a beast is identified with a device that cannot be read electronically and the market specification requires that NLIS device details be recorded.
3.2 Reporting requirements
In relation to scanned cattle, processors must upload to the NLIS database the following information within 2 days of slaughter or disposal:
a) Abattoir establishment number, licence number or PIC
b) NLIS device numbers (microchip or NLIS number)
c) Date of slaughter
d) As a minimum Hot Standard Carcase Weight or weight at slaughter
Attachment 1: National Performance Standards for Livestock Traceability
|Applicable to all FMD Susceptible Livestock Species1|
|1.1||Within 24 hours of the relevant CVO being notified, it must be possible to determine the location(s) where a specified animal was resident during the previous 30 days.|
|1.2||Within 24 hours it must also be possible to determine the location(s)4 where all susceptible animals that resided concurrently and/or subsequently on any of the properties on which a specified animal has resided in the last 30 days.|
|Applicable to Cattle Only5|
|2.1||Within 48 hours of the relevant CVO2 being notified3, it must be possible to establish the location(s)4 where a specified animal has been resident during its life.|
|2.2||Within 48 hours of the relevant CVO2 being notified3, it must be possible to establish a listing of all cattle that have lived on the same property as the specified animal at any stage during those animals’ lives.|
|2.3||Within 48 hours of the relevant CVO2 being notified3, it must also be possible to determine the current location4 of all cattle that resided on the same property as the specified animal at any time during those animals’ lives.|
|Applicable to All FMD Susceptible Livestock Species Except Cattle (Lifetime traceability excluding the preceding 30 days – addressed by 1.1 and 1.2, above)|
|3.1||3.1 Within 14 days of the relevant CVO2 being notified3, it must be possible to determine all locations4 where a specified animal has been resident during its life.|
|3.2||Within 21 days of the relevant CVO2 being notified3, it must also be possible to determine the location4 of all susceptible animals that resided concurrently with a specified animal at any time during the specified animal’s life.|
1 For the purposes of the Standards, ‘FMD Susceptible Species’ means cattle, sheep, goats, and domesticated buffalo, deer, pigs, camels and camelids.
2 ‘The relevant CVO’ means the State or Territory Chief Veterinary Officer, or their delegate, in the jurisdiction where the specified animal is located or has been traced to.
3 For the purposes of these Standards, the term ‘notified’ means the relevant CVO is aware of an incident that required tracing.
4 ‘Location’ means any definable parcel of land including (but not limited to): any parcel of land with a Property Identification Code, travelling stock routes, saleyards, abattoirs, feedlots, live export collection depots, show grounds, Crown land and transport staging depots.
5 Given the risks posed by BSE, it was considered appropriate to establish separate Standards for cattle.
Attachment 1: Acronyms & terms
|AAAAAAAA (or 8A’s)||Default PIC used to register cattle movements on the NLIS database when the PIC of the property on which cattle are to be kept is not known and a Stock Agent PIC or Butcher’s PIC is not available.|
|Bobby calf||A calf not accompanied by its dam that is less than 6 weeks of age.|
|Butcher||A person, organisation or company other than a processor purchasing cattle for slaughter within 7 days.|
|Cattle||Means any bull, cow, ox, steer, heifer, calf or buffalo.|
|Knackery||Location for processing injured, sick and dead stock for products outside the human food chain (eg pet food).|
|Lifetime traceable||A status assigned to NLIS identified cattle where every property of residence in an animal’s life has been registered on the NLIS database in accordance with NLIS business rules.|
Unique number encoded on each microchip which, when read electronically, has 16 characters in the following format:
|MLA||Meat and Livestock Australia|
|National Livestock Identification System||The national scheme operating throughout Australia for the identification and tracing of cattle, and operating under the auspices and direction of SAFEMEAT.|
|NLIS Breeder Device/device||A white NLIS approved device used to permanently identify cattle while they are still on their property of birth.|
|NLIS database||National database operated by MLA which holds the register of NLIS devices, including microchip and associated NLIS numbers, transaction records, and residue, disease and market access status information for PICs and NLIS identified cattle. The database also facilitates the provision of carcase feedback to producers.|
|NLIS device||Ear tag or rumen bolus/ear tag combination approved by the NLIS Standards Committee for use as part of the NLIS. NLIS devices are stamped with the NLIS logo.|
|NLIS Logo||Registered Trade Mark  belonging to Meat and Livestock Australia Limited ACN 081 678 364 used to designate that a livestock identification device has been approved as an NLIS Device.|
Unique number printed on NLIS devices consisting of:
|NLIS Post-Breeder Device/device||An orange NLIS approved device for the permanent identification of cattle that are no longer on their property of birth that are not already identified with an NLIS Breeder or Post-Breeder Device.|
|Processor||A person, organisation or company directly engaged in the slaughter of livestock for human consumption.|
|Producer||A person, organisation or company actively engaged in the raising of cattle for subsequent sale, and includes dairy farmers and feedlot operators.|
|Property||A parcel of land, consisting of one or more blocks, operating as part of a livestock enterprise.|
|Property Identification Code (PIC)||The eight character alphanumeric code for a property as allocated by the relevant State or Territory authority. PICs are printed on transaction tags and as the first 8 characters of the number printed on NLIS devices. Formerly known as the ‘tail tag number’.|
|Ratchet tag||Transaction Tag attached to the tail of cattle and incorporating a ratchet action for securing the tag around the tail. Used for the short term identification of cattle.|
|Rumen bolus||A device administered orally to ruminant species which is designed to remain permanently in the rumen or reticulum. NLIS approved rumen boluses are supplied with a large ear tag (white for Breeder Devices and orange for Post-Breeder Devices) on which is printed the NLIS number and either ‘R’ or ‘Rumen’ indicating that a bolus has been installed.|
|Saleyard operator||The person, organisation or company responsible for the operation of a saleyard, public scale operation or a public auction held on a farm or at a public venue.|
|Stock agent||A commission agent who buys and sells livestock by auction or private treaty for clients as his main form of income.|
|Store cattle||Cattle not for immediate slaughter, including heifers, cows and bulls consigned for sale or purchased for breeding purposes, and cattle purchased from designated prime cattle sales for further grazing or feeding. Does not include bobby calves.|
|Transaction tag||A tag applied to cattle typically for short term identification during transfer to a saleyard, abattoir or knackery. Transaction tags include transaction ear tags, ratchet and wrap-around tail tags, and bobby calf ear tags.|
|Vendor||A person, organisation or company offering livestock for sale including dealers.|
|Wrap-around tail tag||A Transaction Tag made of vinyl that is wrapped around the tail of cattle above the brush, and is used for the short term identification of cattle.|
|CONTACT||PHONE No.||WEB SITE|
|DPI NLIS Helpline||1800 678 firstname.lastname@example.org||www.dpi.vic.gov.au|
|MLA Helpdesk||1800 654 email@example.com||www.nlis.com.au|