Trading Standards Institute Advice

Livestock markets

In the guide

This guidance is for England

Most people in a market, whether they are selling, buying, in charge of, hauling or just viewing animals* are required to comply with certain ways of handling them. Animals must be handled with care in an appropriate manner according to their species, and be fit for transport and sale in a market.

[*Cattle, sheep, goats, (and all other ruminating animals), pigs, rabbits, and poultry.]

Only people who are correctly dressed in clean washable or disposable clothing and footwear should enter designated animal areas. They should wash their hands and cleanse and disinfect their footwear when leaving this area.

The golden rule for vehicles is 'clean in, clean out'. Animals must not be loaded into a vehicle or trailer unless it has been thoroughly cleansed and disinfected using an approved disinfectant since it was last used to transport animals.

The law

The Animal Gatherings Order 2010 (AGO) applies to an occasion at which animals are brought together for a sale, a show or exhibition, onward consignment for slaughter within Great Britain, or inspection to confirm the animals possess specific breed characteristics. See also 'Animal gatherings'.

The Welfare of Animals at Markets Order 1990 (WAMO) defines a market as: '...a market place or sale-yard, or any other premises or place to which animals are brought from other places and exposed for sale and includes any lairage adjoining a market and used in connection with it and any place adjoining a market used as a parking area by visitors to the market for parking vehicles'.

Note: these definitions do not include a farm sale where all the animals are resident on the farm and owned by the occupier of that farm.

For specific information on horses please see 'The welfare of horses at markets etc'.

What is a market?

This is both a place and an event.

Market conditions

  • animals or poultry must not be lifted, dragged, or suspended by their head, ears, horns, legs, feet, tail, fleece or wing
  • the use of sticks, goads and instruments capable of inflicting electric shocks is controlled and specified
  • unfit animals* are not to be exposed for sale
  • animals must not be caused injury or unnecessary suffering while in the market by any means and by any person
  • the method and manner of penning / caging animal species and poultry is specified

[*'Unfit' includes infirm, diseased, ill, injured, fatigued or likely to give birth. Suspected unfit animals can be detained pending veterinary examination. Livestock must also be fit for transport - see EU regulation on the welfare of animals in transport on the GOV.UK website.]

Market operators (normally the auctioneers) are required to:

  • supply suitable bedding for specified animals
  • ensure suitable pens are provided for unfit animals
  • make provision for the feeding and watering of animals
  • supply footbaths and hand washing facilities at the entrance to the animal areas and the loading / unloading areas
  • ensure that alleyways, pens and fittings are not likely to cause injury to animals

Market authorities are required to provide covered accommodation for specified animals.

Identification

All cattle, pigs, sheep and goats must be correctly identified. Identification in this context includes both physical identification, such as ear tags, slapmarks or tattoos (as appropriate and as permitted by the relevant legislation) and the relevant valid documentation that must accompany individual species - for example, cattle passports or movement document (ARAMS-1) for sheep / goats and (eAML2) for pigs.

If animals are to be slaughtered for human consumption then the appropriate food chain information (FCI) declaration will be required - see 'Food chain information (FCI)' for more information.

More detailed guidance on species-specific requirements can be found in: 'Goats - identification, records & movement', 'Sheep - identification, records & movement', 'Requirements for cattle identification', 'The keeping & movement of pigs', and 'The registration & records of poultry'. Further information can also be found in the Animal identification, movement and tracing regulations section of the GOV.UK website.

Sales of calves

In this context, calf means a bovine animal under 12 weeks old. Calves can only be sold at market under certain conditions:

  • the marketing of any calf more than twice in a consecutive period of 28 days is not permitted
  • calves less than seven days old or those with an unhealed naval may not be taken into a market
  • all calves must have an adequate supply of suitable bedding, which must be dry when provided; a thin dusting of sawdust would not be considered adequate
  • all calves must be removed from market within four hours of the last calf being sold by auction
  • all calves must be accompanied by a cattle passport and, if intended for slaughter, by a food chain information document (FCI) 

See also 'Calves at market'.

Young lambs & goat kids

Young lambs and goat kids must not be taken to market or exposed for sale while they still have unhealed navels.

When under four weeks of age, and not accompanied by mother, they must:

  • be housed in covered accommodation, with solid sides and free from draughts
  • be removed from the market without undue delay, and in any case, not more than four hours after arrival
  • have bedding provided, which must be dry

Biosecurity

Following extensive consultation with those who operate markets and other animal gatherings, those who attend them and the regulatory authorities, responsibility for some biosecurity measures has now been handed over to the industry to oversee and control. However, enforcement authorities can still take action if there is a biosecurity risk at a gathering.

Leave 'disease' where it is by following good biosecurity measures every time you leave a premises with livestock:

  • you should ensure that you know the signs of notifiable diseases in animals and, if in doubt, seek veterinary advice as soon as possible
  • don't come on to the premises with clothes or livestock vehicle (including a vehicle used to pull a trailer) contaminated with mud or other farm contamination
  • facilities are provided for you to cleanse and disinfect your boots and scrub your hands. Use them if you need to
  • handling animals can spread disease. You should wash your hands and clothing / footwear before you leave the premises
  • you should cleanse and disinfect your livestock vehicle on site before leaving if at all possible
  • be alert for any signs of disease in animals. If there is a suspect case while you are on the premises, be prepared to cooperate with the authorities in implementing the disease control contingency plan

Defra biosecurity guidance gives essential advice to supplement the legal obligations of those people running and also those attending a market in whatever capacity.

Livestock vehicles

Vehicles - the golden rule is 'clean in, clean out'. Animals must not be loaded into a vehicle or trailer unless it has been thoroughly cleansed and disinfected using an approved disinfectant since it was last used to transport animals.

You must not bring a vehicle or trailer to a market (even if it is empty) if it is visibly contaminated with animal dung, other than the dung of animals on the vehicle or trailer at the time. However, you may enter the market for the purpose of washing out your vehicle, in which case you must go straight to the lorry wash.

If you bring animals to a market and then purchase others, you must not load the purchased animals unless and until you have cleansed and disinfected the vehicle or trailer. However, there are exceptions to this rule - for example, if you are transporting animals between the same two points (except two sale premises) on the same day, and the means of transport is used exclusively for this purpose, then you only need to cleanse and disinfect before the first and after the last journey.

If you have brought animals to a market and wish to leave without cleansing and disinfecting your empty vehicle or trailer you must complete and sign an undertaking that you will cleanse and disinfect within 24 hours or, in any event, before the vehicle or trailer is next used to transport animals (local authority inspectors may carry out random checks).

All livestock vehicles must have their tyres, mudguards and wheel arches cleansed and disinfected when leaving the market.

For more guidance regarding vehicles cleansing see 'Cleansing & disinfection of vehicles'.

Penalties

Failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: November 2016

PixelPlease note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.

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