BARTERED LIVES - Appendix 1: Extracts from the reports of MarketWatch Monitors
What follows are extracts from the reports of Animal Aid MarketWatch monitors at 15 English markets. They are indicative of conditions encountered between Spring 1999 and Spring 2000 - that is, in the aftermath of the introduction of the 1998 government markets Strategy. See the main Bartered Lives report for further details relating to individual markets.
Ashford, Kent (see video clips)
This is a new market but design problems remain. The concrete flooring is rough, a real problem for animals suffering from sore feet. The new pen designs have proved unsuitable for calves.
MarketWatchers have gained acceptance here and have been able to make a difference to some animals. But they are not allowed access to the Incident Book, nor can they attend meetings between market staff, vets, TSO and RSPCA inspectors. 'We never know the end results of animals that we have found to be sick or injured.'
Their own monitoring has revealed that sheep sold on a Tuesday can re-appear at Rye market the following day to be sold again. 'Even sick ewes with local orders for immediate slaughter have still turned up at Rye on a Wednesday.'
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (see video clips)
This is East Anglia's biggest sheep and lamb sale, with as many as 10,000 animals bartered in one day. Handling during sorting is the major problem.
'Severe overcrowding - sheep forced to stand on top of each other. Lambs being thrown about and landing awkwardly. One ram who didn't want to be loaded was punched.' (July 16, 1999)
Apart from the lack of water, the major problems here occur during loading/unloading and the movement of animals around the market. Monitors report that it appears that little or no money has been spent on either the buildings or the pens since the market was built, and the roads are potholed and muddy. Even where surfaces are dry, calves and sheep slip regularly. Accidents occur more regularly on the many wet surfaces.
'Only two water troughs, both in cattle section, at the end of passageways between the pens - therefore doubtful that any animal would be able to use them.'
Much progress has been made at Colchester, due to the vigilance of monitors, but major improvements are still needed. A particular concern is that neither the authorities nor MarketWatchers can observe the entire market, and that unseen abuses are known to occur.
Overgrown hooves in cattle continue to be a problem, as are 'sore feet' caused by the animals having been reared on soft ground. These ailments can result in the cattle becoming lame when placed on the market's concrete flooring. Cuts and grazes are also common, as are broken horns.
The worst handlers are dealers and hauliers. 'They lack any compassion for the animals they transport and would rather rely on a stick than put straw on the tailboard, even though the cattle will load/unload more easily if there is straw down.
'Recently a new haulier was kicking pigs. I politely asked him to stop, and his answer was "Don't start love, or you'll get it", as he deliberately kicked the nearest pig full in the face. To their credit, several market users then stepped in and explained that this was not acceptable behaviour at Colchester. Obviously it is elsewhere.'
'Two bullocks escaped and were chased and shot by police using helicopter and marksmen. No vet or experienced market drovers were on hand. I witnessed one of the killings. The first shot was fired. He screamed and, bellowing with pain, crashed back through the fencing. For a brief moment he stood looking at me and I could see that he had been shot in the face. In terror and agony he careered through the car park and across the main road where he was shot again in the chest. Still he ran, literally for his life, and again his pursuers overtook him - this time to hit him again in the throat. Unbelievably he continued to stagger for a further two hundred yards before he fell and died in the road.' (April 7, 2000)
'A cow has aborted but is not milked, teats blocked, her full udder splashes milk and blood across the pen'. Monitors summon a vet to milk her. (April 2000)
A major problem at Colchester is the Friday market where, in the absence of the senior auctioneer, monitors face great hostility and get so little response to their complaints that they are forced to take action themselves. For example: A steer being loaded without straw was viciously beaten by the driver. The vet had already left and neither TSO nor the market's Animal Welfare Officer would listen to complaints, so monitors approached the slaughterhouse owner, asking him to control his driver's behaviour. (May 5, 2000)
Derby (see video clips)
The major problems here are the frequency of prolonged beatings about the head and body. Also the use of electric goads - some by children - as animals are forced through thorougly unsuitable metal walkways and over slippery floors. Many slip and fall.
'Repeated, constant use of stick on cattle - beating and poking. Use of electric goad in crushes'. (January 14, 2000)
Water is a problem, particularly for sheep. Handling of animals varies.
'Some owners did not allow their cows to lie down. When one tried, she was slapped and finger jabbed. Another was hit and shouted at to make her stand. Bulls were hit and punched in the stalls. Sheep also not allowed to lie down, poked with sticks to make them stand. Witnessed tails being bent double to move cows forward.' (July 20, 1999)
This market has been monitored since 1984 and has been the focus of campaigns calling for all animals to have direct access to water. Not even conscientious TSOs have been able to implement this nor have they been able to prevent the unnecessary and harsh use of the stick. Indeed, the market has shown itself unable to provide for the basic needs of animals such as water and shade for the majority of those passing through its system.
On February 24, 2000 it was announced that the market is to close. Said the chairman of South East Marts: 'It is not viable, not enough farmers support it because they have effective alternatives.'
Even so, last-ditch attempts were being made by various local interests to keep the market alive.
Meanwhile, conditions in the market remain unsatisfactory. A TSO has said there is only enough straw to bed the lairage, pig pens and calf pen once, irrespective of how wet and soiled the material gets. Given the long days animals endure, this is unacceptable.
'Approximately 60 sheep in pen 10 foot by 10 foot with no water and empty water trough on its end at the side of pen.' (January 27, 2000)
'Institutionalised cruelty with quite heavy use of the stick in the auction ring. Many buyers watched as drover hit eight steers to move them around the ring.' (November 25, 1999)
'Pen crowded with six large pigs, sold in morning but still there at 5.15 p.m. One lay shivering but otherwise not moving. Local people felt sorry for them and gave me some left over bread rolls which I soaked in water.' (January 27, 1999)
Hailsham, East Sussex
TSOs are reported to be particularly difficult. Stock arrives in very dirty condition, indicating poor farm husbandry. Lambs are kept in the open, even in severe weather.
'Cattle walkway to cattle crush confusing to the animals. Cow left in crush for two hours. Pressure-washing pens whilst animals present; TSO turned back and walked away in spite of my protest.' (May 11, 1999)
'Dairy herd dispersal sale; cows brought to the market unmilked, potential buyers expressing their milk manually to see if functioning. Sow plus six piglets still suckling in the market, piglets sold separately from sow. Disturbing to see them separated and loaded by different buyers.' (December 1999)
TSO is reported to be very difficult. Monitors have to ask for water troughs to be filled.
'Nine sheep unloaded from a Subaru Sumo. Farmers are rougher than the workers; one was pulling the fleece of his sheep.' (February 2, 2000)
Northampton (see video clips)
Consistently rough handling of animals, leading to fighting among stressed pigs, has been reported at this market.
'Electric goad, hitting and kicking used to move pigs from pens to lorry. Electric goad and a lot of stick use on bulls going in to auction. Regular and repeated use of electric goad and sticks on cattle, metal gates often slammed shut on cows' hindquarters. One cow hit very hard on head by metal barrier slammed shut in front of her - in obvious distress from this, twisting and turning as best she could in the confined space.' (October 14, 1999)
Preston, Lancashire (see video clips)
Water is a major problem, with no apparent access to water for any animals.
'Lot 161 - two sheep, one with sore bald patch on her back and behind the neck, scabs all along it, mutilated ear - is sold. No access to water. Cattle hit as a matter of course. One man using a length of plastic piping. An owner repeatedly slapping and pushing his calves in the face and rump, pulling tail.' (September 21, 1999)
Ripon, North Yorkshire (see video clips)
Trading Standards used video evidence from Animal Aid's 1997 report to successfully prosecute two market drovers in respect of their handling of animals. Considerable media coverage followed.
The rough handling of animals, particularly during loading, and the dirty, slippery floors remain serious problems.
'Routine use of sticks to beat cattle into auction ring. During loading, shovel used to hit pigs, also board, sticks, boots, hands. Pigs are stampeded through the last pen and up the ramp onto the lorry. They appear to be terrified. Fighting then witnessed in lorry. Four-month-old pigs loaded with liberal use of electric goad, hit with this on all parts of the body including the face. Sheep struggled to get up an unstrawed and very steep ramp onto the top open deck of lorry. Some fell back.' (September 22, 1999)
Rye, East Sussex
Rye is an old market where regular monitoring appears to have improved conditions for animals, although monitors feel it needs either modernisation or closing down. There is no incident book, even though members of the public frequently complain, especially on seeing the crowded, unsheltered pens of unshorn sheep in summer. As an example, during the month of September 1999, no vet visited the market. Monitors are not allowed to use cameras.
'Sheep slipping on icy surfaces during unloading and transfer to pens. The additional RSPCA officer - brought in because of MarketWatchers' complaints about the usual inpector - observes a drover picking up and dragging sheep by the fleece. Asks if he is usually like this and we explain he is very rough and we have reported him many times to no avail.' (January 26, 2000)
Taunton, Somerset (see video clips)
Very poor loading at this market.
'Sheep started to slip and fall as concrete alleyways became soiled. One man getting sheep out of pens very aggressively, thumping, kicking and throwing them, slapping them across the face. Very cramped conditions in some lorries. In one, a partition was forced shut after much effort. A man then gained access to the ventilation slats by crawling over the backs of the sheep.' (July 15, 1999)
York (see video clips)
Overcrowding of cattle in pens, or keeping them for prolonged periods in crushes, is the main issue. Few animals have access to water.
'Electric devices used on cows in thoroughly unsuitable races [metal walkways]. Sliding bars that are employed to usher cows along the race one-by-one are commonly used to batter cattle especially around their shoulders. This is to get them to move back. Liberal use of sticks. Very rough treatment of pigs, who are hit with sticks around head and body.' (October 4, 1999)
Animal Aid salutes the courage and dedication of MarketWatchers, whose sole aim is to alleviate the torment of the 22 million animals passing through the British market system every year. They receive no payment and often face derision and hostility from market users. This report is the product of their work. We would, in particular, like to acknowledge Rita Bloomberg, Bill Fisher, Juliette Gardner, Val Latham and the other core monitors who prefer to remain anonymous.