Earmarking and branding of livestock has been used in WA for more than 100 years as a permanent means of identification of ownership of sheep and cattle.
While this system, if applied correctly, is useful to visually identify the original owner of the animals, it is not able to identify subsequent owners nor to record movement of stock through the supply chain.
Modern livestock supply chains require identification and traceability systems that can record multiple owners and record movements. The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) provides this ability and underpins Australia's biosecurity, market access and safety.
As the NLIS provides an identification capability, the need for earmarking and branding has reduced, and most other Australian jurisdictions have removed mandatory earmarking and branding requirements.
If the proposal is legislated, individual sheep and cattle owners would be able to choose whether to continue or to cease earmarking and branding of their stock.
Under this proposal, except for removing provisions for mandatory earmarking and branding, the NLIS regulations would not be changed other than to bring the timing for cattle NLIS identification in line with sheep NLIS tagging.
WA livestock owners, industry and the community are encouraged to provide feedback on the proposal to make earmarking and branding of stock optional.
Feedback can be registered on the Talking Biosecurity site:
Farmers can also complete an online submission form: https://talkingbiosecurity.dpird.wa.gov.au/earmarking-and-branding-consultation?preview=true&tool=survey_tool#tool_tab
Submissions close on 22 December 2020.