Auctions and Markets

Auctions, also commonly referred to as “stockyards” or “livestock markets,” are establishments where farm animals are kept until they are sold or shipped to another destination. Some animals may have to endure transport to multiple auctions before they are ultimately sold for fattening, or more likely, for slaughter.

In the United States, auctions are regulated by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), a USDA agency that promotes the marketing and trade of farm animals and agricultural products. Historically, GIPSA has refused to address animal welfare concerns, and incidents of abuse and neglect occur with no repercussions for those responsible.

Auctions have a poor record of animal welfare. There exist no standard protocols for providing animals with sufficient food, water, space for rest, shade in hot weather, and comfortable quarters in cold weather. Animals too sick or injured to walk (referred to as "nonambulatory animals" or "downers") may be unable to reach food or water and can suffer from inhumane attempts to force them to move, including being rammed with forklifts, shocked repeatedly by electrical prods, and dragged by chains around their necks or legs. Downed animals may be left to die, and sometimes even tossed onto garbage piles while still alive.

Due to serious welfare concerns and the potential for spreading disease, the Animal Welfare Institute opposes the selling of animals at livestock markets.