Elders Sale Yard Investigation - Farm Animal Rescue

At Farm Animal Rescue, our love of animals extends beyond those we are able to rescue and who will live their lives at the sanctuary.

Thanks to our supporters, we also participate in farm animal welfare investigations.  As part of this work, we go to where  ‘food animals’ are being bred, ‘grown’, and handled, checking how the industry treats these living, breathing, feeling creatures, no different to our very own companion cats and dogs.

In many ways, no different from us. 

We witness these animals within the ‘system’ prior to slaughter, reporting where the industry may be doing anything from cutting corners at the expense of the animal’s basic welfare needs, to complete animal cruelty.  And in doing so we are giving these animals a voice. 

Once we have witnessed, we video, report and advocate on behalf of the animals to the relevant industry and government bodies in order to ensure that the animal welfare standards set by these bodies are also being adhered to on the ground.

 Thanks to the Tucker Foundation and Philip Wollen, we were able to complete an investigation into a sale yard owned by Elders in Queensland.  Please watch the video and read below to follow our work.

Prohibited from filming inside the sale yard

“Hi, I’m  Carol from Farm Animal Rescue.  It's Monday, the 23rd of January,  and I’m speaking from outside a sale yard in Harristown, Toowoomba. This sale yard, where animals, mostly farm animals, are auctioned off to the highest bidder,  is owned by one of Australia's largest real estate agencies, Elders, and I’m outside because I’m no longer being allowed to video inside.”

Bobby Calves “a 10 cent piece that’s not even worth picking up”

I became aware of these sale yards several years ago when I witnessed several ‘bobby’ calves for sale.  ‘Bobby calf’ is the name given to male calves born to a dairy cow.   Being males that don't produce milk, there is no ‘use’ for them.  At the sale yard, these calves were lying underneath some cheap shade cloth, day-old babies hardly protected at all from the searing midday heat. A farmer said to me that  “they're not going to a nice place”, and likened them to a ten-cent piece lying on the ground that you wouldn't bother picking up. In other words, as they don’t produce milk, they're worthless and their next destination is likely a slaughterhouse. 

On July 1st, 2021, changes to the Animal Care and Protection Act came into effect. Amongst those changes was for bobby calves to have protection by a roof against rain and sun. 

But in May 2022 we witnessed bobby calves underneath that same shade cloth we'd seen years earlier, now rotting. This time it was a cold, miserable day in May and the calves were cold and shivering.  

We immediately made a report to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, (DAF) which is responsible for the growth of animal agriculture in Queensland, and also the welfare of farmed animals.  We also sent video evidence.  But when we had not been contacted three months later, we got in touch with DAF with the reply “these things take time”.

We revisited again on the 12th of December 2022 and found that the calves had been moved into the pig section. And so they did have cover finally.

Pigs denied water in hot, humid conditions

On the visit in May 2022, we found that 98% of the pigs at this saleyard had no access to water. In addition, we filmed a pig being handled very roughly during unloading.  

We reported it to DAF.

On July 1st, 2021, changes to the Animal Care and Protection Act stated that pigs must have access to water. 

On another visit, in December 2022  we noticed the pigs still had no access to water. They had tubs and some had been filled, yet they were of light plastic, so most of them had been knocked over.  So in actuality, those pigs had no access to water at all. 

We reported it to DAF.

On the 9th of January 2023, we returned and we found that those same lightweight makeshift tubs had again been tipped over, meaning that those pigs still had no access to water. 

We reported it to DAF and Mark Furner, the Minister for Agriculture here in Queensland.

Then, when we arrived on January 23rd 2023, we noticed that for the first time, there was signage everywhere saying that there is no filming or photos to be taken without authorisation, which would mean that we'd have to give our names and identities to the office. We had the manager approach us almost immediately stating this to us as well. We mentioned that we were just here to make sure that the pigs had water. 

The case for an independent Office of Animal Welfare

We think that it is a very basic right for animals to have water and shelter.  Pigs in particular are very susceptible to heat, and we suspect this is why the code has been changed to include water to be available at all times in the first place. 

We also believe that this is a very clear indication as to why we need an independent Office of Animal Welfare, and that the same office that's tasked with the growth of animal agriculture is also tasked with animal welfare is a blatant conflict of interest. 

The Animal Care and Protection Act code is set by the government, most notably Mark Furner’s Office. The due process for reporting animal welfare issues in this instance is with DAF, but tired of the inaction from DAF, we got in touch with Mark Furner's office directly.  On the 6th of January, we heard back from Mark Furner's office stating that the DAF inspector had actually visited these sale yards on the 12th of December and the 19th of December 2022, and considered the pig area compliant. 

Of course, we wanted to see, and record,  what compliance actually looks like, but we were prohibited.

We won't give up holding the government to account and making them uphold those codes that they put in place.

We not only want to thank the Tucker Foundation and Phillip Woolen but also thank you so much for watching and for your support over the years, both on and off the sanctuary. 

We'll update you as soon as we can with any other details, and if you can help with our investigations. 

Many people ask about the impact of investigations on us. Bearing witness to animals that we cannot save breaks our hearts a little bit more with each investigation. Especially when this suffering is so unnecessary. 

Because we believe everyone has the power to stop it right now. 

You see, implicit in every purchase of a dairy or pig product is the endorsement of the processes involved in their production.  And with the amount of plentiful, nutritious, and delicious plant-based alternatives available today, why would we continue to be any part of this misery for animals?

Carol xxx


Farm Animal Rescue Inc.

1713 Dayboro Road
QLD 4521

FAR Management Committee

President - Brad King
Vice President - Carol Slater
Treasurer - Kim Payne
Secretary - Aaron Lee

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