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What influences animal welfare at saleyards?

Saleyards are public delivery and collection points to which animals are transported to be sold to the highest bidder and from where animals are then transported to their final destination.

Because transport is inherently stressful to the animals concerned, RSPCA Australia strongly encourages the direct consignment of farm animals to their point of destination be that an abattoir or another property.

There are a number of key factors that influence the welfare of animals at saleyards. These include:

  • The person in charge of the saleyard should be responsible for ensuring the welfare of all animals at the premises.
  • The saleyard should be designed, constructed and maintained to facilitate the natural flow of movement of animals and in a manner that does not cause injury.
  • The provision of water, feed, shade and shelter should take into consideration the physiological needs of the specific class of animal, the individual animal, and the local climatic conditions.
  • The principles of low-stress animal handling should be applied in which an understanding of animal behaviour and the animal’s flight zone, in particular, are used to encourage rather than force an animal in the required direction.
  • Arrangements should be in place for the care of sick or injured animals and other animals unsuitable for sale.
  • Animals should be fit for transport before being sold.

Water should be provided to all animals at a saleyard. Animals that have been off feed for more than 24 hours and any weak, sick, injured or pregnant animals should be provided with feed.

Yards and pens should have sufficient space for all animals to move around freely, access water and lie down.

The person in charge of the saleyard should report instances of cruelty or other breach of relevant legislation to the relevant authority.

Saleyards – although declining in number – remain a common form of trading in farm animals.

In 2018, minimum standards for the welfare of livestock in saleyards were endorsed by the state/territory ministers for agriculture. Although yet to be formally legislated through state/territory animal welfare regulations, the RSPCA strongly encourages agents and saleyard operators to implement the standards at the earliest possible opportunity.

Updated on May 1, 2019
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