Home > The Bendigo Livestock Exchange must provide shelter to all animals in its care

The Bendigo Livestock Exchange sold a massive 2.19 million sheep during the 2018- 2020 period, earning it a reputation as the second largest sheep selling center in Victoria. [1] Of those 2.19m sheep, not one was provided with shelter while consigned to the Bendigo saleyards.

Photo credit: Animal Abuse at Australian Saleyards

According to Environment Victoria, in January 2018 Bendigo experienced a record breaking 12 consecutive days over 35°C (breaking the previous record of eight days, set in 2014). However, despite the area being the location of one of the worst heat waves to have occurred in the past 10 years, sheep sold at the Bendigo Livestock Exchange have no access to shelter. As a result, animals are subjected to scorching hot weather conditions while confined to the facility.

Agriculture Victoria, in its Sheep Shelter guidelines, states that: “Sheep should be provided with shelter in times of above or below average temperatures. This can minimise the impact of climatic extremes and prevent suffering or possibly death”. It also indicates that, “It is important that shelter is available to all animals at the same time. It is preferable that shelter includes sufficient room for all animals to be able to lie down, as this assists with cooling”. [2]

The Industry Animal Welfare Standards defines extremes of weather as:

“Temperature and climatic conditions that individually or in combination, are likely predispose to livestock to heat or cold stress. ‘Extremes’ of weather can include heavy rain, hail, snow, chilling wind and high heat, all of which can lead to conditions of heat or cold stress in livestock, particularly livestock unaccustomed to these conditions or that are compromised (eg. young, weak or ill animals)”. [3]

“Victoria’s climate will continue to warm, with maximum and minimum temperatures increasing over this century” [4] Due to Climate change, extreme weather conditions in Victoria will only increase. As a result, there will be a greater need to protect all animals from heat and cold stress.

Other major Livestock Exchanges located in Victoria provide shelter. Ballarat (selling area only), Horsham, Hamilton, Pakenham and Leongatha all provide shelter for animals, therefore adhere to the guidelines set down by Agriculture Victoria.

On 2 February 2021, Melbourne Sheep Save met with the City of Greater Bendigo Council Mayor, several councillors, the Manager Business Services and Director of Strategy and Growth and the Bendigo Livestock Exchange manager. The meeting was positive with all in attendance agreeing that a roof is a necessary requirement for the welfare of the animals. A review of the saleyard is currently in progress and is due to be completed in 2 months with a roof being a high priority.
On Monday 15 February our petition,  The Bendigo Livestock Exchange must provide shelter to all animals in its carewas tabled at the monthly council meeting. The petition attracted 2487 signatures from people who recognise shelter as one of the most basic requirements for all animals. 
 

The petition called on the council of the City of Greater Bendigo to recognize and acknowledge Agriculture Victoria’s Sheep Shelter guidelines and abide by the recommendation that specifies the necessity for shelter during all weather conditions.

It requested that council engage an independent auditor to complete a compliance assessment report for the Bendigo Livestock Exchange. This report should focus on animal welfare concerns, workplace health and safety (WHS) and environmental impacts caused by the facility.

It also asked that Council raise the animal welfare standard at the Bendigo Livestock Exchange to, at a minimum, match the other major Victorian Livestock Exchanges. Adequate shelter should be constructed to protect the animals from the extremes of the Victorian weather.

The recommendation was moved by Cr Julie Sloan and seconded by Cr Matthew Evans . All were in favour of the motion and the motion was carried.

Melbourne Sheep Save believes implemeting a contingency plan on days of extreme weather is not providing adequate care to the animals. Will continue to work with the Bendigo Council to make certain it progresses with its intent to construct a roof over the saleyards. 
 

References

[1] https://www.mla.com.au/globalassets/mla-corporate/…

[2] Sheep shelter guidelines | Health and welfare | Sheep | Livestock and animals | Agriculture Victoria

[3] INDUSTRY ANIMAL WELFARE STANDARDS pg. 55 Appendix 4: Definitions

https://aawcs.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/33…

[4] Victorias-Climate-Science-Report-2019.pdf (climatechange.vic.gov.au)