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Welfare in Saleyards

The Issues

There are some concerns that sheep and cattle can become stressed through the process of transportation and time spent in a saleyard. 

The Facts

  • Saleyards are public delivery and collection points where animals are transported to be sold and then transported to another destination, which could either be another farm, a feedlot or an abattoir
  • Saleyards follow the Australian Saleyard Code of Practice
  • The Australian Saleyard Code of Practice aids saleyard operators in achieving the required standards for health, safety and welfare for the sale of all classes of livestock by auction at any saleyard within Australia.
  • Food, water and shade are of the upmost importance to saleyard operators. The code indicates the following in regards to food, water and shade:

Feed and Water

2.11        Livestock holding pens and yards should be equipped with watering troughs of suitable size, which are easily accessible to the livestock and which minimise the potential for injury and fouling of the water. Cattle will also have access to drinkable water within the selling pens at all times.

2.12        Livestock should be monitored to ensure that they are drinking and if not drinking (depending on seasonal temperature / conditions) action should be taken to investigate and if possible rectify the cause(s).

2.13        Where livestock are to be held in the yards for more than 24 hours, feeding facilities, such as feeding racks, self feeding bins or feed troughs should be provided in the yards for livestock to be fed, or agistment paddock with suitable stock feed.


2.14        Where applicable provision of shade and or shelter for animals in hot climates and protection from wind and rain in cold climates is recommended. As far as practicable livestock should be protected from the extremes of weather that can cause heat or cold stress. Shade, shelter, feed provisions and other activities to protect livestock should be part of the overall livestock management plan.

2.15        All new saleyards should include provisions of shade and shelter in accordance with best practice standards and meet quality assurance and animal welfare requirements.

  • Occasionally an animal may become unwell in the saleyards, or arrive injured after getting off the truck (read more on transport here <link to ).
  • The Australian Saleyard Code of Practice has set criteria that ensures only animals fit to travel are reloaded back onto trucks after being sold. This is to ensure no pain or injury is caused to the animal.
  • Animals deemed unfit to travel, as per the criteria, receive the following treatment:
    • Containment in a suitable holding area
    • Rest
    • Provision of shelter, feed and water
    • Veterinary treatment, or
    • If deemed necessary are humanely euthanized 

You can read the Australian Saleyard Code of Practice here .

The Research