From its earliest days the Government of South Australia had legislation relating to livestock. In December 1840 the first Act relating to agriculture, “Slaughtering and Prevention of Stealing of Cattle” was passed. It provided for the licensing of slaughterhouses, appointment of ‘Inspectors of slaughter-houses and of brands’, the creation of a Cattle Registry Office (to register brands) and the inspection of butchers’ shambles to ensure cleanliness. The Cattle Importation Act, 1861 applying to horses, horned cattle and sheep, was in part an attempt to prevent contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia from being introduced from the other colonies. This was followed by The Stock Diseases Act, 1888 which gave stock inspectors powers including quarantine, compulsory vaccination and the destruction of infected stock. These procedures prepared the way for the formation of the Stock and Brands Department, which was first listed under that name in 1881. However it was not until 1945 that the Stock and Brands Department became part of the Department of Agriculture (Love) in the Animal Health Branch.
Consequently the Department of Agriculture, as it was formed in 1905, had little involvement with livestock legislation. However a number of staff did prepare articles on issues pertinent to livestock at the time including poultry, pigs and horses as can be seen in the list of Department of Agriculture Bulletins.
Peter Trumble reports that the first two animal husbandry officers were appointed in the Spafford era (1936–49) with responsibility to the Chief Agricultural Advisor, one in sheep husbandry and the other to work with pigs. In the late 1950s the regulatory and advisory roles of the Animal Health Branch were split with the formation of the Livestock Branch. This new branch having the responsibility for advisory and extension work relating to the husbandry of sheep, beef cattle, pigs and poultry. Dairy cattle and dairy factory matters were dealt with by the separate Dairy Branch. Dr Cyril T McKenna and followed by Dr HV Chamberlain, both of whom moved from the Animal Health Branch headed up the new Livestock Branch.
The following papers detail some of the core programs developed and managed by the Livestock Branch namely: