Animal Markets in Spain
Especially in north-west Spain, animal markets still play an important role. On these weekly markets, cattle, but also horses, sheep and pigs are traded. From there, they are then transported to various regions throughout Spain, as well as to France and Portugal. So-called 'Ferias' – traditional animal markets held once a year – can be found almost everywhere in Spain.
What are the Animals Suffering From?
Farmers and traders bring animals to the markets because there their profit margins are usually higher. For the animals, markets are extremely stressful: the transport, the unknown environment, encountering unknown animals and crowds of people. In addition, there is noise, smell, hectic, hard ground, narrowness, lack of food and water – all of which are stress factors. A good infrastructure, as well as calm and reasonable handling, are very important to reduce stress and fear. However, both can never be completely avoided.
At the moment, the situation is probably most problematic for 'dairy’ cows. When they are sold for milk production, the farmers bring them to the market with full udders. This is how they want to achieve the highest possible price. The cows can hardly stand, they are in pain and trip from one leg to the other. As soon as they no longer give enough milk, and are therefore sold to slaughter, they are often so weak and emaciated that they hardly survive the market day. Often, the pain can be clearly seen on their faces.
What Animals' Angels Does Against it
Since the beginning of 2000, Animals' Angels has been at animal markets in Spain – since 2004 together with the Spanish organisation ANDA (Asociación Nacional para la Defensa de los Animales). Together we regularly inspect the markets, document our controls, maintain a dialogue with the responsible authorities at local, regional and national level and with the respective market managers. We give lectures, design training and information material and make suggestions for improvements. If necessary, we file a complaint.
Together with ANDA we have achieved a lot for the animals at markets:
- We have made animal welfare an issue at markets in Spain.
- Improved infrastructures for animals.
- Prohibition of certain cruelties towards animals
- Increased and improved veterinary controls
- Euthanasia of seriously injured and sick animals
- Animal welfare campaigns
- We have established a good relationship with the market directors
- Many traders and farmers have started to rethink their approach
Nevertheless, there is still (too) much to do. We believe that markets are outdated. They should be replaced by other trade routes to spare the animals the additional stress. As long as they still exist, we use them for intensive controls, education and training campaigns.