An extensive survey by the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) has concluded that UK livestock markets are treating animal welfare as 'of paramount importance and high priority'.

Commissioned by the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA), in collaboration with RSPCA, the independent survey covered a representative sample of 24 livestock markets across England and Wales.

It aimed to evaluate current welfare provisions, identify any areas of concern and to recommend future improvements, with a primary purpose to provide a snapshot of animal welfare at UK livestock markets in the 21st century. The survey compared results to a similar Defra-funded study of 24 livestock markets by the HSA and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) between 2005 and 2007.

Key findings from the new survey include

• All markets surveyed were members of the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme

• All markets surveyed were working to an animal welfare policy and had supporting documents

• Further safeguards including CCTV, training and development have been introduced

• Major improvements and developments in desired features were recorded

• Animal welfare was found to be of paramount importance

Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the LAA said: “This independent, comprehensive and representative study clearly demonstrates the high priority given to both animal welfare, but also the safety and security of staff and visitors to the livestock market.

“At a time when the entire livestock industry is facing false and misleading claims in terms of sustainability, traceability and welfare, we are pleased that this independent research demonstrates that we are maintaining best practice and enhancing quality and safety standards.

“We do not rest on our laurels, and continue to work with partners and other stakeholders to help develop and improve safety and welfare measures. This may be by means of new technology, new techniques or additional training support, but our commitment remains to make the livestock auction market the safest environment for both livestock and human welfare.”

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