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Investigation Reveals Extreme Animal Cruelty in Auction Markets in Argentina and Chile

Sinergia Animal and We Animals Media release alarming images from three livestock auction markets in Argentina and Chile. 

The two animal protection organizations denounce the markets for non-compliance with national and international animal welfare regulations and unsanitary conditions.

International organizations Sinergia Animal and We Animals Media have launched an investigation into the Cañuelas Market in Argentina and the Fegosa and Tattersall fairs in Chile, all dedicated to the auction of live farm animals. Weak and injured animals suffering from overcrowding, physical violence, and a lack of veterinary attention were documented by the investigative team between 2022 and 2023.

“These fairs are scenes of abuse towards thousands of cows, pigs, sheep, and horses sold as objects to the highest bidder. We documented animals exposed to deplorable conditions and aggression—a shocking display of atrocities committed daily without regulation or repercussion,” says Carolina Galvani, executive director of Sinergia Animal.

The timeline of terror

In the early morning, thousands of animals arrive in overcrowded trucks after a long and stressful journey. Their ordeal is just beginning. In both Chile and Argentina, as the animals are distributed into metal or wooden pens, the videos show them being kicked, hit, and poked with sticks by employees. A cow is forced to stand up by having its tail twisted, while a sheep is dragged along the ground.

“These acts of mistreatment and improper handling go completely against the guidelines of the main animal welfare statutes for livestock farms. Ironically, a sign with these guidelines can be seen in one of the offices in the video, and workers are clearly violating regulations issued by SENASA (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria) in Argentina and the Ministry of Agriculture in Chile through SAG (Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero). We have written to both institutions requesting a public response to these disturbing irregularities,” says Galvani.

Amidst the clamor of bells and sales negotiations, animals are left in unsanitary conditions for hours: their pens are often full of piles of excrement.. The recordings show animals that are too old or weak to walk and stand, as well as animals with clear signs of disease, injuries, and infections denied the requisite veterinary attention.

A tradition of brutality

According to sources working in the markets, between 10,000 and 14,000 cattle are received on a single day in the Argentine agro-livestock market, with between 35,000 and 40,000 animals auctioned weekly. In Chile, around 10,000 animals per week are sold through fairs in rural central and southern regions.

“It is devastating to know that thousands of animals experience this level of suffering and neglect every week,” says Galvani. “What we have discovered in these auctions is unacceptable. We call on the community and competent government agencies to put a stop to this systematic and massive violation of animal welfare,” she concludes.

The investigative team was informed through a confidential source that approximately 90% of the animals sold in these auctions are sent directly to local slaughterhouses. The remaining are destined for another stage of the production cycle—such as fattening—and will be slaughtered later.

With this and future investigations, Sinergia Animal seeks to transform the Latin American food industry, promoting more ethical practices and raising consumer awareness about the implications of animal exploitation.


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