The welfare of farm animals at markets

The Welfare of Animals at Markets Order 1990 protects the welfare of animals at markets.

To which animals does the Order apply?

The Order applies to cattle, sheep, goats and all other ruminating animals, pigs, rabbits and poultry (including domestic fowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, guinea-fowls, pheasants, partridges and quails).

Prohibited acts

The Order prohibits the following acts:

  • exposing an unfit animal for sale in a market;
  • exposing an animal for sale in a market if it is likely to give birth while it is there;
  • causing or permitting any injury or unnecessary suffering to an animal in a market;
  • lifting animals off the ground, dragging them along the ground or suspending them clear of the ground by their head, neck, ears, horns, legs, feet, tail, fleece or wing (it is permissible to lift geese off the ground by the base of both wings and to suspend poultry clear of the ground by their legs while they are being weighed);
  • tying up or muzzling calves;
  • tying up poultry by the neck, leg or wing (it is permissible to tie up poultry by the leg while they are being weighed);
  • the use of excessive force to control an animal in a market;
  • the use of an instrument which is capable of inflicting an electric shock to control an animal (it is permissible to use such an instrument on the hindquarters of a cow over the age of 6 months or on an adult pig which is refusing to move forward when there is space for it to do so);
  • the use of a stick, goad or other instrument or thing to hit or prod a calf;
  • the use of a stick (other than a flat slap stick or a slap marker), non-electric goad or other instrument or thing to hit or prod a pig;
  • driving or leading an animal over any ground or floor where the nature or condition of the ground or floor is likely to cause the animal to slip or fall;
  • knowingly obstructing an animal which is being driven or led through any part of a market;
  • wantonly or unreasonably annoying an animal in a market;
  • the bringing to a market of a calf which is less than 7 days old or which has an unhealed navel;
  • the bringing to a market of a calf which has been brought to a market on more than one occasion in the previous 28 days;
  • the bringing of a calf to a market unless upon arrival the person bringing it to the market has provided the market operator with a written declaration signed by the owner of the calf or his duly authorised agent stating the name and address of the owner of the calf, giving details of the identification number of the calf, stating that the calf has not been brought to a market before or has been brought to a market only once during the previous 28 days and where the calf has been brought to a market once during the previous 28 days, stating the address of that market and the date on which the calf was brought there (it is a criminal offence to make a false declaration).

Duties of the person in charge of an animal

A person in charge of an animal is under the following duties:

  • to ensure that the animal is not, or is not likely to be, injured or subjected to unnecessary suffering as a result of the animal being exposed to the weather, inadequate ventilation being available for the animal, the animal being hit or prodded or by any other cause;
  • to ensure that the animal has an adequate supply of water as often as is necessary to prevent the animal from becoming thirsty;
  • to ensure that adequate lighting is provided to enable animals to be inspected, fed and watered;
  • to ensure that an adequate supply of suitable bedding is provided for any calves, dairy cattle in milk, goats in milk or in kid, pigs and lambs or kids under the age of 4 weeks (except for lambs which are kept at the foot of their dam).

Duties of the owner of an animal

The owner of an animal is under the following duties, which can be delegated to a duly authorised agent:

  • where an animal is kept in a market from one day to the next to ensure that it has an adequate supply of food and water when it arrives at the market or by 9pm if it arrives before then and then by at least 9am and thereafter at least every 12 hours;
  • to remove any calf he owns from the market within 4 hours of the time when the last sale by auction of a calf has taken place on that day.

Duties of the market operator

A market operator is under the following duties:

  • to ensure that no animal is kept in a pen, cage or hutch which is unsuitable for the size and species of the animal in question;
  • to ensure that any pen in which calves or pigs are kept is of a sufficient size so as to enable all of the calves or pigs kept in it to lie down at the same time;
  • to ensure that any cage or hutch in which poultry are kept is of such a design so as to enable the poultry to stand in their natural position;
  • to ensure that any cage or hutch in which rabbits are kept is of such a design so as to enable all of the rabbits kept in the cage or hutch to sit upright on all four feet without their ears touching the top of the cage or hutch;
  • to ensure that any cage or hutch in which poultry or rabbits are kept has a door which is of sufficient size to enable the poultry or rabbits to be placed in, and removed from, the cage or hutch without them being injured or caused any unnecessary suffering;
  • to ensure that when animals are penned different species are kept in separate pens;
  • to ensure, when animals are penned, that regard is had to differences in age and size when distributing the animals within the pens, so as to avoid any unnecessary suffering to them;
  • to ensure that fractious animals (animals which are likely to cause injury to other animals) are kept in separate pens, cages or hutches from other animals;
  • to ensure that animals are not kept in pens, cages or hutches which are overcrowded;
  • to ensure that adequate provision is made to prevent animals from escaping from the market and coming into contact with any aggressive or fractious animals in the market;
  • to ensure that bulls are kept in separate pens from other animals (it is permissible to keep bulls which are halter broken together in the same undivided pen if they are all secured by the head or neck or to keep bulls which have been reared together in the same pen);
  • to ensure that boars over the age of 6 months are kept in separate pens from other animals
  • to ensure that animals with young are kept in separate pens from other animals, unless they originate from the same group of animals and get on well with each other;
  • to ensure that adequate lighting is provided to enable animals to be inspected, fed and watered;
  • to ensure that an adequate supply of suitable bedding is provided for any calves, dairy cattle in milk, goats in milk or in kid, pigs and lambs or kids under the age of 4 weeks(except for lambs which are kept at the foot of their dam);
  • to ensure that calves, dairy cattle in milk or in calf, pigs, goats, lambs (except lambs which are kept at the foot of their dam) less than 4 weeks old, rabbits or poultry are kept in covered accommodation;
  • to retain for 6 months any declaration provided to him in respect of a calf brought to the market for sale and to provide the same to an inspector if requested;
  • to provide certain information to the purchaser of a calf and keep for 6 months a record of the details supplied and the name and address of the purchaser and to provide the same to an inspector if requested;
  • to ensure that suitable pens are available for any unfit animals and that such pens are clearly marked as being for unfit animals;
  • to prohibit entry to a pen where an unfit animal is kept unless the authority of an inspector or a veterinary inspector has been given and to assist inspectors and veterinary inspectors when exercising their powers in relation to unfit animals.

Duties of the market authority

A market authority is the local authority or other person responsible for the upkeep of the market or for providing fixed facilities there. A market authority is under the following duties:

  • to ensure that covered accommodation is provided in the market for any calves, dairy cattle in milk or in calf, pigs, goats, lambs (except lambs which are kept at the foot of their dam) less than 4 weeks old, rabbits or poultry;
  • to ensure that all passageways and sale rings in the market and all pens in which animals are kept are constructed and maintained in a manner which is not likely to cause injury or unnecessary suffering to an animal and are free from any sharp edges or projections with which animals may come into contact;
  • to ensure that an adequate supply of water is available for animals;
  • to ensure that there are adequate troughs, buckets, drinking bowls or other drinking devices for the watering of animals;
  • to ensure that any covered accommodation in the market in which animals are kept is capable of being adequately ventilated;
  • to provide suitable ramps and other facilities for the purpose of loading and unloading cattle, sheep, goats and pigs into and out of vehicles in relation to any premises constructed for use as a market since 1 March 1991.

Powers of inspectors and veterinary inspectors

Inspectors have the following powers:

  • to inspect and make copies of any documents which a market operator is required to keep in accordance with the provisions of the Order;
  • to move unfit animals and require the market operator to detain the animal pending its examination by a veterinary inspector;
  • to mark animals (it is a criminal offence to remove, obliterate or deface any such mark).

Veterinary inspectors have the following powers:

  • to treat or take an unfit animal or take any other necessary step to prevent it from suffering;
  • to require the market operator to detain an unfit animal.

Failure to comply with the Order

It is a criminal offence to, without lawful authority or excuse, contravene or fail to comply with a provision contained in the Order.