Auctions or saleyards as they are called in Australia have been used to market animals for over 100 years. Saleyards provide a service and facility for vendors to sell their animals and buyers to purchase them. The vast majority of animals sold at a saleyard are sent for slaughter; their flesh is destined for human consumption. A considerable quantity however are bought for the live export trade and a small number are purchased to restock farms.
The saleyard is where the lives of millions of animals are measured only by the economic value placed on their body and that value ultimately determines their treatment. In reality, the welfare of the sentient beings at the centre of the transactions is basically viewed by the majority as something to protect their investment, not the animal.
Generally speaking, attitudes in the farmed animal industry toward their animals range between contempt and indifference because the mindset that animals are commodities is so ingrained, (hence livestock as opposed to live animals, for instance), that respectful and compassionate treatment is something that is bragged about in the industry PR but rarely if ever demonstrated in the handling and transport of animals.
For some animals, the saleyard can be a place of unimaginable suffering, especially if they are injured or sick. They can be left to linger without mercy or compassion in their pain and fear. Other animals might be spared the misery if the saleyard happens to show a level of responsibility for welfare and ensure that the suffering ends quickly and mercifully.
Regardless of whether by indifference or bullet, they will be thrown into a pile for disposal. They had no value; they didn’t matter. For the rest of the animals considered “stock”, they will be sent by transport to another farm, to slaughter or to live export. Their ultimate journey will still involve risk of mistreatment and injury because there are no mechanisms in place to prevent it.
Animal cruelty on the rise in Geelong
Erin Pearson | August 14th, 2013
Claims of animal cruelty have closed the Geelong Saleyards’ poultry section.
ALLEGATIONS of animal cruelty have closed the Geelong Saleyards’ poultry section indefinitely with investigators scouring the site this week to collect evidence.
It comes as Geelong is revealed as the worst regional area for cases of animal cruelty, with a 23 per cent rise in disturbing RSPCA reports over the past year.
City of Greater Geelong city services general manager Gary Van Driel said council officers recently met a concerned member of the public who presented evidence of alleged animal cruelty at the Weddell Rd facility.
“The majority of the breaches noted were related to the poultry sales section of the site,” he said.
“As a consequence, the poultry auctions/sales have been suspended indefinitely until such time as all parties can effectively demonstrate that the sales are compliant with the current regulations.”
Mr Van Driel said council would work with Department of Environment and Primary Industries to review evidence and discuss supervision options.
Horrified RSPCA animal welfare inspectors revealed they were investigating more than one new case of cruelty each day.
They said new data showed Geelong had been revealed as the worst animal abuser in regional Victoria – and the second worst statewide after northeast Melbourne.
During the past financial year, 853 reports were filed across the southwest region and of those 474 were in Greater Geelong.
During the 2012-11 financial year RSPCA received 704 reports 386 from Greater Geelong.
RSPCA inspector Hugh Robinson said the main facts behind cruelty were ignorance, lack of money and malicious intent.
Mr Robinson is the RSPCA’s only field inspector covering the region from Geelong to the South Australian border and he said he was struggling under the increasing workload, with horrific cases piling up.
“Geelong is way ahead of the rest, it’s ridiculous,” he said.
“We just don’t know what else we can do to stop this.”
Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland and Wangaratta recorded the next highest cases of animal cruelty.
The majority of cases involved dogs or horses.
Recent cases of animal cruelty include:
A LARA man was convicted and fined for allowing the brutal amateur castration of a pet pony that resulted in the animal’s death. Darren Gallop, 51, of Kean Court, pleaded guilty and was fined $2500.
A PITBULL called Tiny had to be put down after her Norlane owner Christopher Shanahan ignored repeated calls to have the dog seen by a vet. He was fined $800.
NORLANE man Paul MacWhirter, 39, of Waiora Ave, condemned his pregnant labrador Ruby to an agonising death because he didn’t want to pay for veterinary treatment. She was found dead. He was convicted and fined $1500.
Mr Robinson is desperately calling on the community to band together and stand up against animal cruelty.
He said residents needed to make statements and be prepared to stand up in court in order to ensure the best possible result for the animal.
Anonymous calls were beneficial, but statements were paramount in helping prosecute offenders, he said.
“We really want people to put their name to it, stand up against these people and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
“This increases the likelihood of a conviction and successful prosecution.”
Last week inspectors searched a Corio address in relation to a starved dog discovered in an abandoned shed in Shepherdson Ave, Corio.
No arrests have been made.
Mr Robinson urged anyone who had made an anonymous tip to please call back.
The RSPCA can be contacted on 5223 1435 or 9224 2222.
Sheep put down at SA saleyards
By Annabelle Homer Tuesday, 23/04/2013
A load of 150 sheep had to be euthanased, because of poor health, when delivered to two mid-north saleyards in South Australia.
The RSPCA is currently investigating.
The president of the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, Brian McCardle, is urging transporters to decline stock that are unfit for travel or risk being liable.
“With the new animal welfare laws, it comes back onto the driver who are responsible for the animals that are put onto the truck and we don’t want to feel that the owners are forcing us to load this stock that are not fit to cart,” he said.
“It’s a very tricky situation when you travel a long distance and you find the animals aren’t fit to be put on.”
Farmer says poor stockmanship responsible for livestock stress
By Cat McGauran Thursday, 06/12/2012
A beef producer from Gippsland in Victoria says poor stockmanship is the main cause of livestock stress in saleyards.
Geoff Gooch, from Pearsondale, believes that animals bred for good temperament and exposed to minor stress early in life can easily cope with the saleyard environment.
He says stress is an inevitable part of selling livestock, but saleyards themselves are not the problem.
“Before we look at closing saleyards, we need to look at educating people to handle stock. To me, the education is probably the most important factor of the whole situation.”
Scrap saleyards for livestock, says RSPCA
By Caitlyn Gribbin and Belinda Varischetti
The RSPCA wants to stop the practice of selling livestock through saleyards.
The organisation has released its animal welfare guidelines for beef cattle production, recommending against consigning cattle through saleyards and using dogs in farm yards.
RSPCA’s scientific officer for farm animals, Melina Tensen, says being transported to saleyards is stressful for livestock.
“The loading, transporting and unloading of cattle is very stressful to these animals, so the saleyard is essentially an additional step in that process from bringing the animals from the farm to their final destination,” she said.
“We’d hope to see, eventually, saleyards not being necessary at all, because animals can be consigned directly from farm to their final destination.”
Craig Walker is a livestock salesman with Primaries in Geraldton, Western Australia.
Mr Walker says whilst there’s always room for improvement in the industry, RSPCA is taking a far too simplistic view of the way the industry works.
“A lot of cases there are mixed lines, the saleyard system is required to facilitate a lot of sales,” he said.
“Particularly when you have breeder sales, it maximises your competition. So I think that what Melina is talking about is a very simplistic view and really does not take into consideration the remuneration the producers are going to miss out on.”
Mr Walker doesn’t deny that the loading, transportation and unloading of livestock places extra stress on animals.
“What the saleyard system does, it gives us a chance to educate both people, our transporters and particularly the cattle,” he said.
“A lot of times when cattle have only been handled once or twice, particularly in the pastoral area, they’re bought in and loaded… they actually can acclimatise, their handling is a lot better.”
Saleyards on welfare warning
Fiona Myers | August 22, 2012
POOR animal welfare is one of the main threats facing saleyards.
Saleyards operators were warned repeatedly at the Livestock Saleyards Association of Victoria conference at Wangaratta last week.
Victorian parliamentary secretary for Primary Industries Dr Bill Sykes said saleyards needed to ensure good animal welfare practices, because just one slip-up could cost the industry dearly.
“People are constantly watching what you do and you need to keep your guard up the whole time,” Dr Sykes said.
“Sometimes people have a brain snap when they are working with animals, but it is just not acceptable. Everyone has a phone and the ability to take photos (of bad behaviour towards animals).
“The industry needs to perform to the highest standards.”
Dr Sykes said the Geelong and Ballarat saleyards had been particular targets.
Cattle Council of Australia executive director David Innal said it was important to acknowledge and include some elements of the animal welfare movement.
“Animal welfare is now an issue for everyone, and the Four Corners program (on ABC TV highlighting animal cruelty in Indonesia) brought it into everyone’s living rooms,” he said.
“That was the biggest news story in Australia ever, surpassing even the September 11 terrorist attacks.”
Mr Innal said agriculture was guilty of sometimes “shutting the door and dealing with it ourselves”.
“You need a road map and you need to be up-front with this and not just support someone else’s initiative,” he said.
“Animal welfare is increasingly front of mind for so many people, and we must be at the front of this debate.”
The LSAV, which is developing a new set of animal welfare standards, held its first meeting on Monday to start the revamp.
But saleyards operators were advised to put other processes in place in the meantime.
Department of Primary Industries principal veterinary officer of livestock management standards Dr David Champness said saleyards should have a way of recording animal welfare complaints.
“Saleyards are a public area and, as such, everyone has access to them,” Dr Champness said.
“You should make sure that you always do the right thing.
“There needs to be a mechanism to treat a complaint seriously, so that there is a record to show that you acted on it.
Yards to charge for unfit stock
Fiona Myers | July 18, 2012
UP to half of Victoria’s saleyards are to introduce fees to dispose of livestock that aren’t fit to sell.
The move is designed not only to fit with new transport regulation laws but decrease the risk of animal-welfare cases in the yards.
And the charges are not limited to Victoria, with one of the nation’s biggest cattle saleyards in NSW introducing new fees from July.
The Wagga Wagga saleyards will fine producers $212 for cattle and $35 for sheep in a fee for “disposal and destruction of non-marketable animals”.
Wagga Wagga saleyards manager Paul Martin said some producers would receive bills at the end of this month.
“There’s no profit in this – it’s a cost the facility has worn (to destroy and dispose of animals),” he said.
“But we are also hoping the fee will discourage producers from sending in unfit animals.”
Rodwells Wagga Wagga manager Glenn Fordyce wrote to clients earlier this month, saying agents were concerned over animal-welfare issues.
“Everyone now has a mobile phone that can take photos or video clips and these images can be sent around the world in minutes of being taken,” he wrote.
“If in doubt, leave it out.”
Victoria’s biggest cattle saleyards, Wodonga, is also about to introduce a fee to dispose of unmarketable animals.
Northern Victorian Livestock Exchange manager James Thompson said he believed producers would stop sending unfit animals “when they get a bill for it”.
“It will act as a deterrent, sadly, but it will also just cover costs,” he said.
“I have no problem telling clients – it’s my decision and my call and it’s probably the only way to keep unfit stock out.”
Livestock Saleyards Association of Victoria executive officer Mark McDonald said up to 50 per cent of yards were considering introducing a fee for unfit stock.
“It sends a very strong message to producers and makes it easier for agents and transporters to prevent these types of (unfit) animals turning up in the first place,” he said.
Bendigo saleyards implemented a $50 fee for sheep about two years ago and saleyard manager Kerrie Crowley said it had discouraged producers from sending unfit stock to the yards.
New fit-to-load standards from July
BY DEANNA LUSH 27 Jun, 2012
SHEEP producers are being urged to only load stock that are fit for transport to ensure that the industry’s recent improvements in condition of animals at saleyards continues.
The reminder comes as States prepare for new national livestock transport standards. The new standards start on July 1 in Tasmania, Victoria and the Northern Territory, on August 1 in South Australia, later in 2012 for NSW and in 2013 for Western Australia and Queensland.
The standards apply for sheep, pigs, goats and cattle as well as alpacas, buffalo, camels, deer, emus, ostriches, horses and poultry and include planning and preparation for transport, time off water and fit-to-load criteria.
They replace previous codes of practice that differed in each State with a consistent national approach.
Sheepmeat Council of Australia president Ian McColl said the new standards removed any shades of grey there might have been with determining whether stock were fit to load.
“From an industry or producer point of view, we see that as positive for the ongoing welfare of animals,” he said.
He said the strength of the new standards was the national consistency offered, which was a “good move forward for the industry”.
He said producers had definitely improved the condition of stock taken to saleyards.
“People are very aware at all levels of their responsibilities and certainly take welfare very seriously across the industry,” he said.
“We’re being proactive, we are coming out with new and better standards. We are aware of the concerns of animal welfare, it is one of the main concerns of our industry.
“(Good animal welfare) is paramount for our whole production system.”
Last month, the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association (ALPA) circulated a report from Animals’ Angels titled Australia’s Contradiction – Farmed Animal Welfare.
The report was presented to the global Food and Agriculture Organisation’s forum on animal welfare earlier this year.
It contained photos of animals between August 2010 and June 2011 either unfit for travel or being transported in equipment the organisation claims breached transport standards.
The report questioned whether agricultural departments are best placed to police the industry without prejudice if it is also their role to promote the use of animals. It called for an independent body to police the development and enforcement of animal welfare laws.
“The treatment of animals at many saleyards, throughout many transports and during export, is a continuing disgrace in Australia,” the report said.
ALPA chief executive Andy Madigan said the report was sent to members to reinforce that the industry was being watched.
He said while the industry had been improving in terms of the condition of animals delivered to saleyards, it was an offence to transport stock that were not fit to load, even from property to property.
“If they’re not fit to load, they are not fit for any journey – and that’s to an abattoir or anywhere,” he said.
“If people think they are going to bypass a saleyard and sell faulties straight to an abattoir, well they’ll get prosecuted because the abattoirs are getting monitored just as much as anywhere else.”
Download MLA’s Is It Fit To Load? guide under ‘publications’ at www.mla.com.au
An animal is unfit to load if it is:
- Unable to bear weight on all legs
- Severely emaciated
- Visibly dehydrated
- Showing signs of severe injury or distress.
- Suffering from conditions likely to cause increased pain or distress during transport
- Blind in both eyes
- In late pregnancy, where the journey to the end destination is more than four hours
No schedule yet for $12m saleyards
Updated March 05, 2012
The Western Downs Regional Council is yet to set a timetable for the completion of a $12 million saleyard at Dalby.
The State Government has pledged $5 million to build the yards, which will feature a roof, automatic drafting, new sale pens and softer floorings.
Mayor Ray Brown says the funding injection will bring the completion of the project forward.
“The $12 million complex is something that council is looking at and would take in the vicinity of two years to build,” he said.
“It was all going to be done from internal borrowings and it would have had some major drawbacks funding wise.
“This is the opportunity to move forward with it, go straight into stages one, two and three.”
Councillor Brown says it is good news for an industry that has been hurt by recent reports about animal welfare.
“Well we do hear a lot about animal welfare these days, looking towards the future where we must understand we must look after the animals also in protection not only from the sun but better wellbeing for the animal, less stress, which means a better quality of meat for the end user,” he said.
Gavin O’Sullivan; Elmore livestock transport company guilty of animal cruelty
ELISE SNASHALL-WOODHAMS 18 Jan, 2012 04:00 AM
THE owner of an Elmore livestock transport company has been fined $10,000, without conviction, for cruelty to animals.
Gavin O’Sullivan, 62, faced the Bendigo Magistrates Court yesterday on charges brought by the Department of Primary Industries.
The court heard that on May 3, 2010, at the Bendigo saleyards, four sheep in the care of O’Sullivan’s Transport were seen to be “severely distressed and disabled”.
A saleyards officer ordered for them to be humanely destroyed, but their wishes were blocked by O’Sullivan.
The court was told the sheep were not fit for transport and were eventually secured by sale yards staff.
When the lame sheep were destroyed and subsequently tested by DPI staff their legs were found to be fractured with significant joint damage.
On August 16, 2010, two more disabled sheep, with severe injuries, were seen in the care of O’Sullivan’s transport. On both occasions the sheep were being transported from primary producers around Wagga Wagga to an abattoir at Stawell.
O’Sullivan was charged with failure to provide vetinary care, not humanely destroying the animals, and containing them in manner likely to cause further harm.
O’Sullivan’s defence lawyer said his client had no knowledge of the particular injured sheep, and said crippled sheep were “part of the industry”.
But Magistrate Ian von Einem said it was O’Sullivan’s responsibility to make sure his workers complied with guidelines on the safe and humane transport of livestock.
“This is conveying sheep that are obviously in pain,” he said.
“Animals are being transported that shouldn’t be transported.
“One disturbing part of this is they have tried to reload them.”
O’Sullivan originally pleaded not guilty to the charges, but when Mr von Einem offered a fine and non-conviction he changed his plea.
Vic saleyards under scrutiny
ZOE MOROZ 16 Dec, 2011
SALEYARDS across the State have come under fire by animal welfare groups, who are targeting the treatment of livestock and the condition of saleyard facilities.International animal rights organisation Animals Angels submitted a damning report to the State Government that included photos, video footage and a detailed veterinarian report after visiting western Victorian saleyards last month.
The report revealed “unacceptable flooring” among the issues as well as sheep being unloaded from a trailer and ute without the use of a ramp, causing sheep to land on their heads and necks.
Animal welfare groups are now targeting post-sale feeding of livestock, water quality and the unloading of stock from vehicles after witnessing dogs swimming in water troughs and unfed livestock.
Last week, the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association (ALPA) issued a warning for all members to review their animal welfare standards as a matter of urgency.
The agents association also reminded members that saleyards were “public places and activists have right of and need to be treated with respect”.
ALPA Victoria/Tasmania State management committee member Rob Bolton said one of the main issues was livestock being received at saleyards that should never have been loaded for sale in the first place.
“There’s good awareness at the saleyard level; everyone who works directly at the saleyards, from management, employees, agents and carriers,” Mr Bolton said.
“There is more work being done in the saleyard system than people realise but the hard thing is there are livestock that slip through the cracks and end up in yards that should never be there.”
Mr Bolton said more education at the producer level was needed to increase awareness about livestock that were “fit to load and fit for human consumption” and were therefore fit for sale.
“A lot of livestock that end up in saleyards haven’t been seen by an agent,” he said.
Mr Bolton said the receipt of unfit stock could only be stopped by educating producers and making a stand at the saleyard level.
Victorian Livestock Exchange managing director Graham Osborne said destroying unfit animals was the only way to get the message across.
“It’s a blunt tool of education but it seems to work,” he said. “The message will get out there; the financial penalty seems to have an effect.”
Some saleyards are now looking at increasing fees for destroying unfit stock, including the Bendigo yards, which are looking at increasing their fee from $50 to $100 a head.
ALPA has called for members to review their policy on post-sale feeding and while livestock become the responsibility of the buyer on the fall of the hammer, a chain of responsibility comes into play.
“Animal welfare is a national issue and it is everybody’s responsibility,” Mr Bolton said.
Saleyard cruelty on farm animals
- by: Carly Crawford
- November 24, 2011
SICK and injured farm animals are being traded across Victoria, allegedly in breach of animal welfare rules.
Shocking video reveals animals writhing after clumsy failed attempts to put them down, sheep being made to walk with horribly broken legs and a stock handler tossing a live sheep into a pen.
Animals with open wounds and some that are rake-thin have been found at saleyards around the state.
The Department of Primary Industry is investigating three claims of cruelty and inappropriate practice.
The Herald Sun can reveal the Ombudsman’s office has been asked to investigate the adequacy of the department’s response to persistent claims of mistreatment at saleyards.
Among dozens of allegations raised with the DPI this year are that:
SHEEP made to walk with broken legs and with open wounds have been put up for sale.
A SHEEP was seen writhing and kicking for 13 minutes, until its throat was cut, after attempts to put it down by shooting. A DPI probe found “no evidence” the sheep was suffering.
STOCK handlers have been seen throwing live animals into pens.
EMACIATED sheep were transported to an abattoir for halal slaughter.
The alleged activity was filmed by animal activists.
RSPCA senior inspector Daniel Bode said: “We would remind those on farms and in stockyards it’s their responsibility to make sure no animals suffer.”
State and national animal welfare regulations forbid sick and injured animals being sold or transported to saleyards and instruct that badly injured animals should not be sold but killed humanely.
The DPI said it had investigated 25 complaints about a saleyard in Victoria this year, but had found “no cruelty cases to answer”. Three claims are still being investigated.
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh, National Party deputy leader, said complaints to his office “lacked sufficient evidence” and failed to identify those responsible.
“The Victorian Coalition Government condemns animal cruelty. The Minister is aware of the allegations,” a spokesman said.
Cruelty allegations have been levelled at farmers and stock handlers at saleyards across Victoria for at least six years.
The Victorian Farmers’ Federation livestock group president Chris Nixon said most farmers did the right thing, although it was a “fact of life” that livestock suffered injuries in transit.
Vic saleyards to lead animal welfare push
EXCLUSIVE: VICTORIAN saleyard operators will lead the way reforming animal welfare standards.
Victoria will push ahead and make changes to the current rules before any national agreement.
A meeting of industry groups in Melbourne on Monday decided to immediately review the current codes of practice for animal welfare in saleyards.
The group, which included the Livestock Saleyards Association of Victoria, the Department of Primary Industries and the Victorian Farmers Federation, also formed a reference group to assess current practices.
Currently, there is a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Saleyards – Victoria, known commonly as the “brown book”.
However, not all saleyards adhere to this code, which was last reviewed in 2002.
The reference group will review the current code of practice and others in use, with the aim of coming up with a common version to be used in the 30 saleyards across Victoria.
LSAV executive officer Mark McDonald, who convened the think-tank, said Monday’s meeting was “positive and proactive”.
“The industry needs to move forward and tackle animal welfare in a co-ordinated way,” Mr McDonald said.
And while a nationwide standard was considered ideal, Mr MacDonald said Victoria planned to go it alone, as national agreement would take “too long”.
He said the reference group would involve industry members, but the LSAV also planned to approach animal welfare organisations to see if they want to be involved.
“We need to understand that things change and community expectations change and we need to move with the times,” he said.
Mr McDonald said saleyards like Bendigo and Ballarat were under constant scrutiny from animal welfare groups, yet their presence should not be seen as a threat.
“We hope to be able to work with legitimate animal welfare groups as they reflect the community’s standards,” he said.
Cattle Council of Australia chief executive David Inall said. no one at the meeting wanted to “make excuses” and seemed sincere in their wish to tackle animal welfare issues.
And he said Victoria was wise to go it alone, rather than wait for a national code of practices, which could take “years”.