Code of practice for livestock at depots and saleyards

The code of practice for livestock at depots and saleyards is a mandatory code under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001. It contains minimum acceptable standards of animal welfare for livestock being held at saleyards and depots. It applies to all ages and types of livestock being sold, whether feral, kept commercially or kept as a hobby.

The code provides for humane and considerate treatment of livestock handled through Queensland saleyards and depots, and informs all people responsible for the care and management of livestock about their responsibilities. It sets a minimum industry standard by defining acceptable livestock management practices.

The code of practice for livestock at depots and saleyards is based on the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Saleyards and Depots (saleyard standard) agreed by State and Territories in 2018. The saleyard standard has been developed in consultation with animal industries, animal welfare groups, and relevant state and federal government bodies.

The code of practice for livestock at depots and saleyards apply to all stock handlers, including:

  • truck drivers
  • stockpersons
  • livestock agency staff
  • stock inspectors
  • producers
  • saleyard managers
  • staff involved in the management of various livestock species.

The code of practice is not a comprehensive manual on how to care for animals at saleyards and depots and does not provide detailed information on topics such as pen design.

Key mandatory requirements for the welfare of animals at saleyards

Below are some key mandatory requirements listed in the code of practice for livestock at depots and saleyards; however, you must refer to the code for the full list of requirements:

  • You must not load livestock if they will not be fit for sale at the end of the journey. An animal is not fit for sale if it is
    • unable to walk on its own by bearing weight on all legs
    • emaciated
    • visibly dehydrated
    • showing visible signs of severe injury or distress
    • suffering from conditions that are likely to cause increased pain or distress during transport
    • blind in both eyes.

      (These requirements are consistent with the existing mandatory standards that ensure livestock are fit to load for transport.)
  • You must not present a bobby calf for sale unless the calf is a minimum of 5 days old, is in good health, alert, and able to rise from a lying position. This does not apply to calves born in transit to, or at, the saleyard.
  • Keep bobby calves under a roofed area at all times.
  • Make appropriate arrangements at the first reasonable opportunity for the care, treatment or humane killing of any animals assessed as not fit for sale or sick, injured, distressed or diseased livestock.
  • Only use an electrical prod on livestock (except pigs)* if they are 3 months of age or older. The livestock must be able to move away from the prod and the prod must be applied as sparingly as possible. The prod must not be applied to the face, udders, anus or genitals of the livestock.

  • *For pigs, only use an electrical prod if the pig is at least 60kg and the prod is applied as a last resort to protect the safety of a person.

  • Only use a dog to assist in the control or movement of livestock if the dog is under effective control at all times and the dog is wearing a muzzle. However, you must not use dogs to assist in the control or movement of bobby calves, pigs or an animal that is unable to stand.
  • Take reasonable actions to ensure the welfare of livestock from extremes of weather (temperature or climatic conditions that individually or in combination are likely to predispose cattle to heat or cold stress), fires, floods and injury.

Duty of care to animals at saleyards

Anyone who owns, manages or handles animals at saleyards and depots may have a legal duty of care to animals and be responsible for ensuring their welfare.

This includes:

  • stock owners (commercial and non-commercial)
  • stock managers
  • stock handlers
  • stock agents
  • contractors
  • saleyard agents
  • veterinarians
  • processors
  • transporters.

Other welfare codes relevant to animals at saleyards

Anyone involved in transporting livestock should read:

Also consider...