Animal Aid

BARTERED LIVES - Summary

A summary of Bartered Lives - Animal Aid's third major report on the treatment of animals at livestock markets.

Largely in response to our second report, called A Brutal Business (1997), the government introduced a national welfare Strategy for markets, aimed at making the experience less stressful for animals. In the Bartered Lives report we examine how effectively that Strategy is being implemented. Animal Aid MarketWatch monitors have visited 15 English markets since the Strategy was introduced. Some were observed once, others on several occasions

Our survey reveals that:

The financial problems experienced by farmers and dealers has resulted in a greater number of worn out and 'surplus' animals being offered for sale. Many show signs of serious neglect and under-feeding - notably, 'cull' breeding ewes, cattle destined to be destroyed under the Over Thirty Month BSE emergency scheme, and very young dairy calves.

For other animals the situation remains unchanged, bar minor improvements in particular circumstances.

  • Animals are still subjected to aggressive and neglectful treatment that often constitutes a breach of the market welfare laws and/or Codes of Practice.
  • The physical fabric of most markets remains ramshackle.
  • There is still no accredited training requirement for those handling animals at markets. Even children are witnessed using sticks and electric goads on animals.
  • The casual brutality of many market users and employees makes it more difficult for frightened animals to remain calm.
  • It is still rare for any of the 14 million animals passing through English markets each year to have access to water. (The same is true of the additional 8 million bartered through the Scottish and Welsh sales.)
  • Animals may arrive at market sick or injured, or sustain injuries during the day. Frequently, no veterinary attention is received.
  • Enforcement of animal welfare legislation remains seriously deficient, with a lack of resources often blamed.

Animal Aid calls on the government to:

  • Establish a welfare league table of markets, based on data provided by State Veterinary Service vets. Markets unable to meet a standard consistent with even the current welfare requirements must upgrade or be closed.
  • Provide sufficient financial resources for the proper enforcement of the law and its own 1998 welfare Strategy.

The next section of our Bartered Lives special is the introduction to the main report itself.

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