The recycling of animal litter or faecal waste as fertiliser is a good thing to do.
However, people who utilise this material must be aware of restrictions on the use of Restricted Animal Material or RAM.
RAM is any material that comes from a mammal, bird or fish, and must not be accessed by ruminants such as farmed cattle, sheep, goats and deer.
RAM includes rendered products, such as blood meal, meat meal, meat and bone meal, fish meal, poultry meal, feather meal, and compounded feeds made from these products.
If you use this material, you have an important role to play in helping to maintain Tasmania's freedom from Mad Cow Disease (BSE).
In addition, exposure of your ruminant livestock to RAM will mean a life-long ban on processing those animals for export.
If you want to use material that includes (or might include) RAM on a pasture, you must keep all ruminant animals out of that paddock until there has been sufficient pasture growth to absorb that material.
While withholding periods such as 21 days or even 42 days may be quoted, the time taken for material to be incorporated will vary according to climatic conditions and pasture growth.
The producer must visually inspect to ensure that no material remains before ruminants are reintroduced.
Ruminant producers particularly must ensure:
- Organic waste is spread evenly. Where waste is inadvertently left in piles the breakdown of material is slower.
- The mixing of RAM and non-RAM feeds (eg by using the same equipment) does not occur. It can't be assumed that a flush will remove RAM, especially from silos or augers. The only way to be completely safe is to use entirely separate equipment for RAM and non-RAM feed.
- That your ruminant feed has the correct label on the invoice or bag - "this product does not contain restricted animal material".
- That if they also keep pigs, to make sure that pig feed is stored and fed in a way that ruminants can never access it. Pig food frequently contains RAM.
- That if they also have a chicken shed, it should be fenced so ruminants can't enter and access litter or feed which may contain RAM.
- That bakery waste is not feed to ruminants. This might seem like a cost saver however bakery waste frequently contains meat products. This practice will not only negatively impact the animal's health and production, it may also lead to RAM exposure.