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Many alpacas standing in a field with an overlay stating ‘Backyard Biosecurity, it’s up to all of us’ and ‘Agriculture Victoria’
Edition 1: Welcome
In this edition:

Welcome to the Backyard Biosecurity newsletter! Thank you for subscribing.

Maybe you are new to running a property, or maybe you’ve had a small property or some livestock for years – this is the newsletter to run you through the crucial things to know and do to keep your property safe and minimise the risk of pests and diseases.

This email series covers the biosecurity fundamentals of managing small-scale landholding.

To start off the series, we asked our biosecurity officers for the top questions they get from landholders.

Questions you were afraid to ask...
White alpaca with green ear tag on left ear with drawn question marks in the background
1. Do I need a permit to have pigs and poultry on my land?

While owning land can give you great freedom, you should also be across the rules and regulations governing land management. 

Land-use planning permits

All pig farms, and poultry farms with greater than 100 poultry (or 10 emus and/or ostriches) currently require a land-use planning permit in the following zones:

  • Farming Zone
  • Rural Activity Zone
  • Green Wedge Zone
  • Green Wedge A Zone
  • Rural Conservation Zone
  • Rural Living Zone.

The planning permit process is necessary because even small, free-range pig farms can have significant environmental and community amenity impacts if not sited and managed correctly.

For more information see:

2. What other permits or registrations do I need to have for keeping livestock?

Having livestock can bring much joy and satisfaction, but it also brings extra work and responsibilities. 

You are responsible for making sure your animals have adequate food and water, are handled properly, protected from extreme weather conditions and their health is managed.

There are certain rules and responsibilities designed to protect you and your animals. Here are a few areas you need to be familiar with.

Property Identification Codes (PIC) are required

Property identification is important for tracing and controlling disease and residue problems, if detected

Property Identification Codes (PIC) numbers enable Agriculture Victoria to contact owners in the event of a disease outbreak and to support emergency relief and recovery activities.

Victorian law requires people to have a PIC for the properties on which they intend to graze or keep:

  • one or more cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, alpaca, llamas, deer, horses and/or camels
  • more than 50 poultry (domesticated fowl, chickens, ducks, geese, turkey, guinea fowl, pigeons, quail or pheasants) or 10 emus or 10 ostriches
Cattle, sheep and goats
A few sheep standing in the foreground in front of hay, background has more sheep

Identification - National Livestock Identification System (NLIS)


The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is Australia’s system for the identification and traceability of cattle, sheep and goats. The NLIS reflects Australia’s commitment to biosecurity and food safety and provides a competitive advantage in a global market.

In Victoria all cattle, sheep and goats must be tagged with an approved NLIS tag before leaving a property. This includes animals being given away or kept as pets.

For more information see: 

Movement - recording movements on the NLIS database


In addition to making sure your animals are tagged with an approved tag, you are also responsible for recording livestock movements on the NLIS database as follows:

When cattle and sheep are moved between properties with different PICs, the person receiving the livestock is required to register the movement on the NLIS database.

For more information see:

Movement Documentation

Close up shot of a person’s hands filling out a form

A movement document such as a Livestock Production Assurance National Vendor Declaration (LPA NVD) or similar document must be completed by the owner or person responsible for the husbandry of the sheep, cattle or goats when they move.

The document creates a record of the movement and provides the receiver with valuable food safety information (for example, chemical treatment and exposure history).

Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) is industry’s on-farm quality assurance program. Producers must be LPA accredited to access sheep, goat and cattle LPA NVD forms. 

People who choose to not to be part of the LPA program can complete a generic sheep, goat or cattle Consignment Declaration. Confirm with the person who will receive your cattle, sheep or goats before the consignment leaves your property that they are willing to accept a non-LPA Consignment Declaration.

Movement documents for purchased livestock must be kept for seven years for cattle, sheep and goats, to allow the tracking of animals if the need arises.

For more information see:

Close up shot of two pigs


Pigs must be identified before being moved off a property with either a tag or tattoo brand depending on their body weight. This includes pigs that are given away or are kept as pets.

  • Less than 25kg — must be tagged
  • More than 25kg — must be tattooed.

Movement documentation - PigPass and PigPass National Vendor Declaration


Whether you have one pet pig or a commercial herd - you must register with PigPass to access PigPass National Vendor Declarations (NVDs) and record movements of pigs on the PigPass database.

PigPass is a national tracking system that provides information on the movements of pigs in Australia.

PigPass is designed to link pigs to properties via their PICs, ear tags and tattoos and pig movement documentation (the PigPass National Vendor Declaration).

Keep movement documents for purchased pigs for two years to allow the tracking of animals if the need arises.

For more information see:

Other livestock species
Many alpacas standing in a field

There are currently no NLIS tagging requirements for:

  • alpaca
  • llamas
  • camels
  • deer
  • horses
  • poultry (domesticated fowl, chickens, ducks, geese, turkey, guinea fowl, pigeons, quail or pheasants), or
  • emus or ostriches.
3. I think my sheep/cow/goat is unwell. Who can help?
Person wearing a stethoscope standing in front of multiple cattle

Ensure that you regularly inspect your livestock or animals to check they are healthy.

Isolate new stock and monitor them for signs of sickness or disease. This will prevent new diseases spreading to your other animals.

Where possible, have a quarantine paddock for sick animals located away from boundary fences and other livestock.

When you think your animals are unwell or have signs of disease, your first point of contact should be your veterinarian.

Report any unusual signs or suspected cases of emergency animal disease immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 (24 hours a day, every day of the year), download the Notify Now app or local Agriculture Victoria Animal Health and Welfare Staff.

Read more about identifying and managing disease in livestock and animals.

4. What are the signs of worms and what can I do about them?
Cattle resting on grass

Worms are a common question we get. Internal parasites can be a bit… unsettling. They are also a big problem for your livestock’s performance and health.

Signs of worms in animals include:

  • diarrhoea (scouring)
  • weight loss
  • bottle jaw (swelling below the jaw)
  • coughing
  • anaemia (blood loss)
  • lethargy
  • death

To learn more about the signs of worms and worm management strategies visit the WormBoss website.

Read more about dealing with livestock worms.

5. Hmmm that looks interesting... is it a biosecurity risk, or just a bug?
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Image: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

You may occasionally come across a bug or plant that looks, well, new/odd/scary/alien.

It may be just a bit of a harmless rarity and best left to go on its way.

But on the other hand, there are plant pests and diseases that can cause devastation to our environment, agricultural production and access to export markets.

If you have found something unusual, a great starting point is the Agriculture Victoria website.

Report any unusual plant pest or disease immediately using our online reporting system. Early reporting increases the chances of effective control and eradication. Please take good quality photos of the pests or damage to include in your report where possible.

Alternatively, you can call the Exotic plant pest hotline on 1800 084 881.

So, there are the top picks from our team on what you may want to know about managing your animals and landholding. Keep an eye out for the next email where we’ll discuss biosecurity and its implications for your landholding.

If you are enjoying this newsletter series, then why not forward to a friend?


Agriculture Victoria

Further reading

Contacting Agriculture Victoria

Call 136 186 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobiles and public telephones).

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or

All contact points can be found at:

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