Coronavirus: Livestock marts introduce raft of new safety measures

Additional security standards, hygiene precautions and further market restrictions have been agreed to keep marts running
Additional security standards, hygiene precautions and further market restrictions have been agreed to keep marts running

New livestock market restrictions have been introduced to ensure safe trading continues in auction marts as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

In light of the heightened level of safety measures during the Covid-19 crisis, the new measures aim to ensure markets remain open and safe.

Government has agreed with the industry that livestock markets play a crucial role in facilitating efficient supply of livestock into the food chain.

Now additional security standards, hygiene precautions and further market restrictions have been agreed and implemented.



The sale of prime stock, cull animals and store stock is still permitted, but sales of all breeding stock will cease immediately, and will not return for at least three weeks.

This category of sale includes, but is not limited to, dairy and beef breeding cattle, breeding sheep, ewes with lambs at foot and breeding pigs.



The Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA), which announced the new rules, said it is now compulsory for all purchasers to register with the market, and only ‘known’ buyers will be given access.

Where possible, buyers have been asked to ‘double-up’, with one person buying for multiple purchasers.

All potential gathering points such as refreshment cafes and mobile units will be closed, and social distancing will be enforced.

Markets will not permit any more around the ring than the minimum 2m gap will allow.

Markets will keep a register of all those that attend sales, and at conclusion, buyers will be asked to enter the sales office in a manner that does not result in too many entering at any one time.

The Livestock Auctioneers’ Association added that buyers will be asked to sanitise on entry to the market and exit.

Markets will also implement a ‘drop and go’ policy for all vendors, to prevent any sellers from entering the market.



Vendors must deliver their animal to the loading docks, and remain in their vehicles while market staff unload the vehicles and take the animals to their pens.

Sale documentation must be collected by the market staff from the vendors’ vehicle, LAA said, and vendors will not be permitted to the market offices or pennage area for any reason. Once unloaded, the vendors’ vehicle must leave the mart site immediately.

Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the LAA, said the group's priorities are to protect public health while keeping the food supply chain running.

“The LAA appreciates the support and understanding of our clients and operating member marts at this unprecedented time, but our priorities are to protect public health while still being able to supply the food chain.

“We appreciate these new measures create challenges, but it is important we work together to help deliver an efficient supply of livestock to the food chain, while protecting everyone from the virus,” he said.

What are the new guidelines for buyers?

• Markets will enforce buyer restrictions to allow for social distancing, not allowing more people at the ringside than the 2m gap allows

• Markets strongly advise purchasers to ‘double up’, with one person to buy for multiple clients.

• All purchasers must register with the market and only ‘known’ purchasers will be given access to the market.

• Markets will ensure that the highest hygiene prevention measures are in place.

• All potential “gathering” points will be prevented and all cafes, mobile units etc will be closed

• Markets will keep a register of those that attend their sales – contact name, address and telephone number.

• At the conclusion of the sale buyers will be asked to enter the sales office in a way that does not result in too many entering at any one time.

• Buyers will be asked to sanitise on entry to the market and again on exit.

And for vendors?

• Markets will implement a “drop and go” policy for vendors to prevent any sellers from entering the market.

• Vendors must remain in their vehicles when they arrive at the market, the market staff will unload the vehicle at the loading dock, and the vendors vehicle must then leave the mart site immediately

• The sale documentation will be collected by the market staff from the vendor’s vehicle when they arrive at the unloading docks – vendors must not take the paperwork to the market office, or enter the market pennage area for any reason.