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Chemical residue risks in feed

Farmers hand feeding stock during the current dry conditions are reminded of the risk of chemical residues in fodder.

If chemicals are found in animals above thresholds, markets can be damaged, animals returned from abattoirs, carcases can be condemned and quarantines imposed.

All farmers are encouraged to ask for a Commodity or Fodder Vendor Declaration before buying grain or hay. This declaration will detail the chemical treatments applied to the feed and allows the purchaser to identify potential residue risks.

Sources of residue

Chemical residues in stock feed can be present due to:

  • applying chemicals to a crop from pre-planting through to harvest
  • chemicals used for insect control in storage
  • storing grain and hay in facilities which have been previously treated with organochlorine (OC) pesticides
  • spray drift from nearby chemical applications
  • persistent chemicals in soils if large amounts of soil are mixed into feed during harvest.

Impacts of chemical residue

If chemical residues are allowed to enter our food chain, they will damage the 'clean' reputation of Australian animal products and may affect our domestic and export markets.

When an animal enters the food chain, it is tested at an abattoir. If the carcass is found to contain any chemicals above the maximum residue limit (MRL), it will be condemned.

Other animals in that consignment will often be condemned or returned to the property of origin, and the origin of the stock will be traced. Additional testing required and quarantine may be imposed.

Unusual stock feeds

Producers are urged to be especially cautious if feeding unconventional stockfeeds during current dry times.

While most farmers' priority is sourcing fodder at a reasonable price; the chemical residue risks that the fodder brings with it also need to be considered.

Some of these were never intended to be fed to animals and hence their residue risk may be high. 

Reducing the risk

Producers should request a By-product Vendor Declaration from the supplier as part of a risk assessment before feeding these materials.

Obtaining accurate and detailed commodity, fodder or byproduct vendor declarations is the only way to fill in a LPA National Vendor Declaration and Waybill correctly and substantiate claims made. These may be checked under the random audit process of the LPA program.Anybody with questions regarding drought feeding or chemical residues in livestock should contact their nearest LLS District Veterinarian or Livestock Officer.