Livestock welfare at saleyards

Your responsibilities

Persons in charge of livestock including farmers, agents, transporters and saleyard staff have a responsibility for the welfare of livestock under their care and should ensure that they:

  • Select livestock that are fit and healthy for the transportation journey ahead.
  • Ensure animals that are not fit to load (for example, injured, down, diseased or emaciated) are yarded separately and appropriate action is taken. These animals should be handled humanely.
  • Be competent to work with livestock and have an understanding of livestock behaviours to minimise stress to animals.
  • Arrange feed for stock if they are off feed for more than 24 hours (includes transport time). Time off feed for pregnant or young animals should be considerably less than this. In the absence of the owner or agent, arrangements should be made with the saleyard manager. The owner includes the vendor or purchaser, depending if it is pre-sale or post-sale.
  • 'Flappers' or 'metallic rattles' can be used sparingly when needed to encourage movement of animals. Beating of animals is not accepted.
  • The use of  electric prodders should be a last resort.
  • Dogs must be effectively prevented from biting (for example, muzzled), be supervised at all times and  secured when not working.
  • Dogs must not be used to move pigs or calves.

Good stockpersons are flexible in their approach to livestock management and handling. They adapt to the needs of different animals and circumstances.

Saleyard superintendents and staff

The Saleyard superintendent is the person in charge of any livestock saleyard. The Saleyard superintendent:

  • has overall responsibility for the welfare, care and handling of animals at saleyards
  • has the power to humanely destroy any animal at a saleyard in their municipal district that is likely to cause death or serious injury to another person or animal, or any animals that are abandoned, distressed or disabled and would continue to suffer if they remained alive
  • is responsible for the feeding, watering and regular inspection of all animals when not in care of owner or owner's appointed agent
  • is responsible for prompt veterinary attention or euthanasia for diseased, sick or injured animals and the removal of carcasses from saleyards
  • responds to emergency situations in a timely manner
  • has workers with a high standard of stock handling and who receive appropriate training
  • does not tolerate cruelty or ill-treatment of animals.

Responsibilities when transporting livestock

  • Carefully plan the journey to prevent any adverse effects on animals.
  • Allow adequate time for stock to be loaded in a calm, patient and considerate manner.
  • The transport vehicle should be clean, appropriate for livestock being transported and in good repair to minimise injury.
  • Animals should be sorted prior to loading — appropriate classes of livestock penned together.
  • Animals should not be lifted by the head, horns, legs or wool during loading or unloading.
  • Carry out an initial inspection no later than 30 minutes after start of journey and every two hours thereafter.
  • Observe guidelines regarding journey duration and rest stop times (as per the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and guidelines.
  • Unload animals as soon as possible after arrival at their destination.

For more information on your responsibilities for the welfare of livestock at saleyards and during transportation, please see:

Page last updated: 03 Dec 2020