Auctions, also commonly referred to as “stockyards” or “livestock markets,” are establishments where farm animals are kept until they are sold or shipped on 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 U.S., auctions are regulated by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), an agency of the USDA 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 as a result.
Auctions have a poor record of animal welfare. Lacking are protocols that provide all 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 neck 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, AWI opposes the selling of animals at markets. However, to reduce animal suffering associated with the auctions that do exist, AWI advocates:
- an age limit on animals sent to market (calves under 10 days of age for example)
- requiring health certificates indicating fitness for marketing of all animals and prohibiting the marketing of nonambulatory animals
- setting of standards for animal care at auctions
- enactment of federal &/or state laws requiring that nonambulatory animals at auctions, slaughterhouses, and on transport trucks be promptly and humanely euthanized.
Last Updated: December 28, 2010