Animal Aid


Posted 20 June 2000
Cover of Bartered Lives Report

The hidden victims of the farming crisis are the large number of sick and hungry animals processed through Britain's livestock markets, according to a new report by national pressure group Animal Aid.

Bartered Lives examines the implementation of the government's 1998 welfare Strategy for animals passing through markets and finds that there remain endemic problems of brutality and serious neglect. Chief among the victims are worn-out ewes, cattle en route to incineration under the BSE emergency measures, and discarded baby calves, for whom there is a negligible demand. These animals result mostly from irresponsible over-production by Britain's heavily subsidised farmers.

Bartered Lives produces evidence of such animals arriving diseased and emaciated, and being subjected to aggressive treatment during what is often a long, stressful experience. The provision of water is rare.

The Animal Aid report demonstrates that similar treatment in Britain's typically ramshackle markets extends to animals for whom there is a commercial demand. Undercover film, published along with the report, shows animals beaten heavily with sticks, kicked in the head and prodded repeatedly about the face with electric goads - sometimes by children. There is still no accredited training requirement for those handling animals at markets.

Bartered Lives is Animal Aid's third major report on market welfare since 1993. It is the product of monitoring by its UK-wide network of MarketWatchers. Animal Aid believes that seven years of MarketWatching have demonstrated that markets are an ugly anachronism which have no place in modern Britain. But for so long as the system survives, the pressure group demands:

  • properly-resourced enforcement of the welfare laws, and the closure of all markets failing to meet current welfare requirements.
  • the establishment of a welfare league table of markets, based on data provided by government vets.

Said Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler:

"21 months ago, largely in response to Animal Aid's previous report, the government announced a new welfare Strategy. But without resources for enforcement, that Strategy is meaningless. Farmers have only themselves to blame for financial problems arising from the over-production of animals and the BSE crisis. To deprive worn-out ewes and cattle of food or veterinary care in the last months of their lives is barbaric. Driving them through the medieval bartering system prior to slaughter compounds the offence. The day at market - 'fun' as it might be for socialising farmers - has no place in the 21st century."

The following 15 markets are monitored in Bartered Lives:

Ashford, Kent - Bury St Edmunds Sheep Sale, Suffolk
Chippenham, Wiltshire - Colchester, Essex - Derby
Exeter, Devon - Guildford, Surrey - Hailsham, East Sussex
Leek, Staffordshire - Northampton - Preston, Lancashire - Ripon, North Yorkshire - Rye, East Sussex
Taunton, Somerset - York

Notes to Editors

  • Bartered Lives is available online.
  • All images from markets featured in Bartered Lives are available - as stills, on a CD-ROM, or can be e-mailed as jpegs.
  • For more information on Bartered Lives, contact: Yvonne Taylor, Kay Holder, or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364 546. After hours 07931 582 067.
  • We have an ISDN line for Broadcast-quality interviews.

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