What is an Agistment Agreement?
An agistment agreement allows the owner of livestock to pay someone (landowner) to take care of their animals for a specified period of time. These arrangements can be simple agreements which involve the landowner taking responsibility for housing and shelter. Or they can be more complex which may include breeding of the stock.
These agreements are common for livestock owners when their own property is not in an adequate position to sustain their stock. This commonly occurs during the dry season, or when they are just starting out.
An agistment agreement sets out all the terms and conditions and responsibilities of the parties.
The Department of Primary Industries recommends using a written agreement when agisting stock, as this ensures the parties are aware of their rights and duties, and provides appropriate mechanisms for dispute resolution.
What Should be Included?
The agreement should contain all the terms and conditions, highlighting the rights and responsibilities of the parties.
It is common to find the following clauses in an agistment agreement:
- Date and period of agreement
- Details of parties
- Description of the livestock
- Finances – fees are usually calculated on a dollar per head per week basis
- Responsibilities of the parties
- Lien – it is common to grant the landowner a lien over the livestock. This means that in the case that the livestock owner does not make the required payments, the landowner can detain the stock as collateral until the agistment debts are paid
Responsibilities of Parties
As owner of the stock, it is important that you ensure the property of the landowner is up to standard. If you negotiate that the property will be properly fenced and secure, you should ensure you confirm this before finalising the agreement.
Unless otherwise agreed to under the contract, the livestock owner will usually be responsible for ensuring that the livestock are and remain in good health whilst on the property.
Furthermore, making the required payments at the required time will reduce likelihood of disputes.
The responsibilities will vary according to negotiations of the agreement, but commonly it is the responsibility of the landowner to ensure that the property is properly looked after and hazard free.
Making sure the animals have proper access to food and water and that they are housed in the manner agreed to. For example, if as a landowner, you agree to house a horse in a stable by itself, but you house it with other horses and it gets injured, you may be liable.
An agistment agreement allows the livestock owner to avoid the need to sell livestock if they are unable to adequately care for them due to issues such as poor property conditions or heatwaves.
Furthermore, it has been noted that by transferring livestock to the agistment property that has high quality grasslands, this can ultimately increase the value of the stock by improving weight gains or fertility.
National Livestock Identification System
It is important to note that under an agistment agreement, the owner of the stock will need to make sure that the animals have the correct NLIS identification, and ensure that they record the movements of the animals on the database.
To Sum Up
Agistment agreements are common and can have numerous benefits for both parties.
It is highly recommended to put an agreement into writing and get it drafted or reviewed by a legal professional.
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