How to look after yourself at the mart

The endless lowing of cattle here, there and everywhere, the staccato clatter of the Auctioneer’s microphone in the background, helter skelter movement of stock being penned and drawn out, mart staff, buyers and sellers looking for lost livestock.

This is a typical mart scene!

Attending or doing business at a livestock mart can be an enriching experience or it can burn a hole in your pocket. It can also be dangerous. First and foremost, look after yourself around the livestock mart.

The Do’s and Don’ts of bringing Cattle to the Mart:

Health and safety risks are heightened at marts, with large numbers of cattle brought together in unfamiliar surroundings. Anxious cattle at the mart pose a threat, they may retreat, take flight or attack.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) advises that they will not typically attack unless they think there is no other real option.

store cattle

If you’re bringing cattle to the mart, you should watch out for the danger signs such as tail position and if cattle are pawing the ground.

The HSA has a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to cattle handling at the mart:


  • Do back right up to the loading bay so escape is impossible when loading/unloading
  • Do let staff know if you are delivering a bull or a fractious animal
  • Do watch out for cattle being moved – move out of the way
  • Do follow any request from staff
  • Do watch for an escape route
  • Do watch for any escaped/out of control cattle
  • Do park your jeep/tractor in an orderly manner


  • Don’t leave any possible escape gaps when loading/unloading
  • Don’t attempt to help with cattle unless you’re asked to
  • Don’t stand talking in the way when staff are moving cattle
  • Don’t bring in children
  • Don’t move livestock without a stick or a sorting paddle
  • Don’t smoke inside the buildings
  • Don’t bring your dog to the mart
  • Don’t poke the cattle in the sale ring

Other Suggestions from Teagasc Advisers include:

  • Avoid bringing old age pensioners, sick or infirm people to the mart
  • If selling stock, book animals in a few days in advance of sale, arrive early
    on day of sale with your stock
  • In the situation where you have not visited or done business with a certain mart before, Check out the premises, sales ring, office, yard and penning area, toilets etc. Rushing around trying to find things will lead to accidents
  • When transporting animals to mart, ensure that vehicle carrying the animals is roadworthy and well lit up
  • Ramp gates on trailer lorry need to be hanging and secure. This will facilitate the safe loading/unloading of stock. If selling stock, follow instructions on mart staff carefully, it is their job to ensure the stock are penned according to their booking in docket and sales stamp number
  • Where you are doing business at the mart and there is somebody assisting
    you, know where your work partner is positioned and doing at all times. Work as a team.
  • Do not frighten cattle by shouting, banging on gates with sticks etc
  • Stay clear of cows with calves at sales; never get between a cow and her calf
  • Never enter a pen with cattle in it
  • Where there is a safe viewing area or overhead walkway available to view stock, then use it as much as possible
  • Never try to sit up on the rails in the sales ring
  • When loading cattle at end of mart, avoid slashing with sticks at legs and hooves of animals, they will kick out

By Anthony O’Connor, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit