Land Transport Standards for saleyards

Saleyards play an important link in the livestock supply chain. Operators of saleyards must ensure the welfare of livestock under their control during transit through saleyards.

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines — Land Transport of Livestock, commonly referred to as the Land Transport Standards set out requirements which saleyard operators must comply with to ensure the welfare of livestock under their control. These Standards are adopted into enforceable legislation.

Key messages

The welfare of livestock during the transport process is a whole of supply chain responsibility, with saleyard operators having an important role and responsibility to ensure good animal welfare outcomes.

Saleyard operators must ensure:

  • saleyard facilities (loading ramps, holding yards and pens) are well constructed and maintained
  • water is provided to stock as required and feed and rest requirements are met for livestock under their control
  • livestock under their control are handled appropriately
  • weak, sick or injured livestock must be separated at the first reasonable opportunity for rest and recovery and appropriate treatment is arranged or where necessary, humane destruction is performed appropriately
  • livestock being consigned from the saleyard are assessed as fit for the intended journey (fit to load)

Are the Land Transport Standards different to the Code of Practice?

Do the Land Transport Standards apply to Saleyard Operators?

The LTS will apply to all persons (livestock operators) involved in the livestock transport process. Livestock operators include the consignor, transporter and receiver of livestock. Often the livestock transport process will involve saleyards. Therefore, operators of saleyards (saleyard superintendants) will be responsible for the welfare of livestock held at saleyards.

What are my obligations as a Saleyard Operator?

The Livestock Management Act 2010 (LMA) requires all livestock operators involved in the livestock transport process to comply with the LTS. There will be court penalties and/or infringements for those operators found to be in breach of the standards.

The LMA also requires livestock operators to conduct a systematic risk assessment of any prescribed livestock management standards within six months of these Standards being adopted into legislation.

What are welfare 'Standards' and 'Guidelines'?

Standards are the legal requirements for livestock welfare and use the word 'must'. The standards detail the requirements of livestock management practices and tasks.

Guidelines are recommended practices to achieve desirable welfare outcomes. Guidelines use the word 'should' and are designed to complement the standards.

Saleyard superintendants should have a copy of the LTS document and ensure their staff are aware of their responsibilities under the Standards in ensuring good animal welfare outcomes.

Land Transport Standards requirements specific to saleyards

These are some of the key standards (designated with an 'S') and guidelines (designated with a 'G') which relate specifically to saleyard operations:


SA 1.1 — A person in charge must exercise a duty of care to ensure the welfare of livestock under their control and compliance with the livestock transport standards.

Facilities for livestock

SA 3.1 — Livestock facilities for holding, loading and unloading facilities must be constructed, maintained and operated in a way that minimises risk to the welfare of livestock.

GA 3.13 — Solid yard extensions should be used to cover any gaps between the loading ramp floor and the vehicle.

GA 3.14 — Railings on ramps and raceways should be appropriate height, with the gaps sufficiently narrow at the bottom to prevent livestock being caught, slipping through or becoming injured.

GA 3.15 — Ramps need to be wide enough to ensure easy movement and should be an appropriate slope for the species and class of livestock.

SA 4.4 — Where livestock are assessed to be not fit for the intended journey before loading, the person in charge must make effective arrangements for the care, appropriate treatment or humane destruction of weak, ill or injured livestock at the first opportunity.

Feed, water and rest requirements and considerations

SA 5.1 — If the maximum permitted time off water is reached, livestock must be provided with water, food and rest before continuing the current journey or before starting another journey.

Refer to the Land Transport Standards and Guidelines for the maximum permitted time off water periods for cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

SA 5.3 — If no documentation is provided indicating the last time the livestock had access to water, livestock at a saleyard, spelling facility or staging point must be provided with reasonable access to water after 24 hours at the facility.

GA 5.43 — Livestock at a saleyard, spelling facility or staging point should be provided with reasonable access to water after 12 hours, and to feed after 36 hours at the facility.

Livestock handling

SA 5.7 — Livestock must be handled in a manner that is appropriate to the species and class, and minimises pain and injury. Specifically:

  • Livestock must not be lifted by only the head, ears, horns, neck, tail, wool
  • Livestock must not be lifted off the ground by a single leg, except in the case of sheep, goats and pigs if they are less than 15 kgs live weight.
  • Livestock must not be thrown or dropped
  • Livestock must not be struck in an unreasonable manner, punched or kicked.
  • Downer livestock must not be dragged, except in an emergency to allow safe handling, lifting, treatment or humane destruction.

SA 5.8 — Electric prodders must not be used:

  • On genital, anal or facial areas
  • On livestock under three months of age
  • On livestock that are unable to move away
  • Excessively on an animal.

There are some further restrictions of the use of electric prodders for some classes of animals and species for example, pregnant stock. (refer to the LTS document).

SA 5.9 — Dogs must be under control at all times during loading, transporting and unloading livestock. Dogs that habitually bite deer, goats, horses, pigs and sheep must be muzzled.

SA 5.14 — The person receiving the livestock must make arrangements at the first opportunity for the separating of weak, ill or injured livestock for rest and recovery, appropriate treatment, or humane destruction and disposal of dead stock.

GA 5.52 — Livestock that cannot walk from the vehicle ('downers') should be destroyed humanely on the vehicle, where practical. Alternatively, facilities, equipment and sufficient personnel should be available for the humane unloading of these livestock and their humane destruction at the first opportunity.

Humane destruction

SA 6.1 — Humane destruction methods must result in immediate loss of consciousness followed by death while unconscious.

SA 6.2 — Humane destruction must be carried out on moribund livestock, by a competent person or under their direct supervision at the first opportunity.

Refer to the Land Transport Standards and Guidelines for recommended methods and procedures for humane destruction.

Animal welfare standards and guidelines

You can find further information on animal welfare standards and guidelines below:

Page last updated: 06 Jul 2020