Legislation and Biosecurity
Legislation and Biosecurity
We are lucky in Australia to be considered one of the clean, green countries not impinged upon by some of the diseases found in other countries, but we cannot afford to be complacent. Our Government has put into place a number of strategies to help with the biosecurity and traceability of livestock and our sheep fall into this category. Whether we have a couple of pet sheep or a large flock we are expected to follow these regulations. Some of this legislation is national and some is state based. As we cannot fit all of the information for each State on here, we will provide the links to each state. Please click on the appropriate one for your State to find out your obligations.
***Please Note: These regulations are legally binding, so we are expected to know and follow the procedure***
All movement of sheep within Australia is identified and monitored by the National Livestock Identification System, by a series of codes, ear tags and matching documentation.
Property Identification Code (PIC)
As a purchaser you need to obtain a PIC Property Identification Code before you can purchase any sheep. As a seller you need to ensure anyone to whom you sell sheep has a PIC. Your PIC is an eight letter/number combination allocated to your property that forms the basis of all traceability. These are free in most States and can be obtained online:
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Again ear tags vary from State to State, with Victoria being the only State that currently uses RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or Electronic tags for all sheep born on or from January 1st, 2017. Western Australia still requires ear notches as well as NLIS tags.
In general, the rules state:
NLIS (Sheep & Goats) breeder tags must be used to identify sheep and goats before they leave their property of birth. It is recommended that year of birth colour tags are used (see table below).
NLIS (Sheep & Goats) post-breeder tags are pink and can be used to identify sheep and goats no longer on their property of birth or those which have lost their breeder tag.
All NLIS (Sheep & Goats) tags can be attached to either the right or left ear as long as the tags don't obscure any earmark.
Further information regarding each State's ear tag requirements can be found at the links above.
Colours by Year
Year Year Colour
2008 2016 Black
2009 2017 White
2010 2018 Orange
2011 2019 Light Green
2012 2020 Purple
2013 2021 Yellow
2014 2022 Red
2015 2023 Sky Blue
All movement of sheep to any property other than those covered by your PIC, must be accompanied by the correctly completed documentation. This includes a National Health Statement, and the combined Livestock Production Assurance National Vendor Declaration (NVD) and Waybill. These can either be completed online (called an eNVD) and sent to the purchaser or on the hard copy triplicate forms available from the NLIS.
National Vendor Declaration (NVD)
"The NVD communicates the food safety status of every animal every time it moves along the value chain – between properties, to saleyards, or to processors. The NVD also acts as movement documentation throughout the value chain.
You must be LPA accredited to access the LPA NVDs. When you tick the box on your LPA NVD, you are declaring your on-farm practices meet LPA requirements, and ultimately customer expectations.
Your tick must be backed up by accurate farm records. This is your pledge that the meat from your farm has been produced safely, ethically and meets biosecurity requirements– it means you stand by what you sell."
Regardless of whether you sell for meat or pets you still need to supply the NVD if you sell your stock. Accreditation can be obtained here:
The National Sheep Health Declaration allows the purchaser to assess the risk of buying the sheep by checking their Health status. It includes the major possible problems of Ovine Brucellosis, Ovine Johnes Disease and Footrot, as well as internal and external parasite treatments and vaccinations. It is mandatory for transport into South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania, but highly recommended for all movements and often mandatory for entry of sheep into Agricultural Shows. Forms can be completed online or downloaded from here:
One of the most important areas to follow through after purchase of new sheep is to TRANSFER THEM FROM THE SELLER'S PIC TO YOUR PIC. Although this is the responsibility of the purchaser, some sellers will do it for you. It requires you to go onto the NLIS Database and electronically transfer the full ear tag number of each sheep, (16 numbers and letters including the PIC) to your PIC. If you deal with large numbers of sheep mob based transfers can be done, but this does not usually apply to our sheep.
To register an Account with the NLIS, click here and follow the steps:
It seems different States have different timelines for this to be accomplished but in VictoriaThe NLIS expects transfers to be done within two days from the purchase. However, they do not follow through on this and their Helpline is generally excellent.
An excellent website for more biosecurity information relating to sheep, including templates for your own farm biosecurity can be found here: