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Transporting cattle to and from saleyards

Supply chain relationships and strong, consistent messaging and communication with all parties (producer, agent, transport operator and buyer) are critical when consigning animals through saleyards.

Transporting livestock out of saleyards

  • Managing the animal welfare risk factors is a shared responsibility between all people involved, including producers, transport operators, saleyard personnel, livestock agents and stockpersons.
  • The provision of clean water and good quality, dry feed prior to transport is a key requirement for livestock welfare. The transport and saleyard processes are often associated with livestock being deprived of feed and water for extended periods. The livestock transport process includes activities from the time that livestock are first deprived of water before loading, until the time that livestock have access to water and feed at the end of their journey. The saleyard process will be preceded by the transport process delivering livestock to the saleyard, followed by a second transport process, moving livestock from the saleyard to their final destination.
  • The provision of water, feed and rest at a saleyard must take into consideration the time off water and food during the initial transportation to the saleyard, and the likely duration of the second journey where livestock will again be deprived of food and water until receival at their final destination. Communication between the shared parties is critical and is often challenged by individuals only considering their single part of the larger livestock journey that the animals will undertake from farm to farm, feedlot, depot or abattoir. Providing appropriate access to feed and water in the context of the total journey is therefore essential to ensure welfare and fitness to travel is assured.
  • From a livestock welfare perspective, the stages in the saleyard process and the responsibilities of relevant persons can be described clearly as follows, however requests and responsibility ultimately lie with the saleyard manager:
    • receival of livestock upon unloading (saleyard manager, livestock agents and stockpersons)
    • the care and management of livestock in the saleyards including the handling, drafting, including selection as ‘fit for sale’, appropriate treatment for weak, ill or injured animals, penning for sale, holding post-sale, provision of feed and water whilst holding at saleyard (receiver - saleyard manager, livestock agents and buyers)
    • Assembly and preparation of livestock for transport, including selection as ‘fit for the intended journey’ and ensure they are appropriately fed and watered (consignor – saleyard manager, livestock agents, buyers).
  • If not dispatched within 24 hours of arrival at the saleyards for sale, cattle need to be fed.