KENTUCKY LIVESTOCK WELFARE AND COMPLAINTS
Healthy livestock are a vital part of agriculture and our rural communities. In Kentucky, the vast majority of farmers and livestock owners consider the welfare of their animals to be a top priority. However, when a citizen believes that livestock or poultry are being subjected to neglect or cruelty, that citizen can contact local law enforcement or file a complaint with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) through this website.
Once a livestock or poultry complaint is filed with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, it is forwarded to local law enforcement for investigation of the matter. KDA investigators may collaborate with local authorities to assist in determining if a criminal investigation is warranted in the matter. KDA has no authority or resources to provide direct care to animals.
It is important to note that the KDA only receives and processes complaints regarding suspected livestock and poultry neglect and abuse cases. The guidance provided on this website only applies to cattle, horses, swine, sheep, goats, poultry and other livestock. If your concern involves a dog, cat or companion animal, you must contact local authorities.
What constitutes livestock neglect and cruelty?
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is considered adequate care for livestock?
2) I don't want to file a formal complaint. Can you just go by and check out the situation; Can someone else file the complaint for me; Can I file an anonymous complaint?
A: No. KDA will only process formal complaints filed by a person with first-hand knowledge of the livestock conditions. It is important to note that once filed, information contained in the complaint is a public record and subject to an open record request.
3) If abuse or neglect is suspected, what will happen to the livestock?
A: KDA will forward the suspected abuse or neglect complaint to the local authorities for investigation. If requested, KDA will assist local authorities as subject matter experts in the investigation. KDA has no authority or resources to provide direct care to animals involved in the investigation. However, KDA will work with local authorities to seek potential resources for the care of the animals.
4) Shouldn't livestock always have access to a barn for shelter?
A: No. A barn is not always necessary for livestock. Natural barriers such as trees, hedges, or a hillside can provide appropriate cover and windbreak for livestock.
5) I have noticed some owners put blankets on their horses in winter. If a horse is out in a pasture without a blanket in cold weather, is that considered abuse?
A: No. Horses naturally develop a thicker hair coat in the winter months to provide warmth. While some equine owners may prefer to blanket their horses in inclement weather, most horses, ponies, and mules can maintain body temperature and health without a blanket.
6) I've seen some herds of cattle that seem very thin. Are they starving?
A: Not necessarily, as some breeds of cattle can appear thinner as much of their dietary intake may be diverted to milk production or growth of the offspring. Age can also be a factor in body condition for all types of livestock. It can be common to see some of the cow's ribs, hip and back bones.
7) I've seen some horses that seem very thin. Are they starving?
A: Not necessarily, as some horses can appear thinner as much of their dietary intake may be diverted to growth of their foals or into performance conditioning. Age can also be a factor in body condition of horses.
8) Sometimes I see livestock laying down in the field. Is the animal sick?
A: Not necessarily. Lying down is natural for any and all livestock depending on the preference of the individual animal.
Filing a Complaint
The Online Livestock Welfare Complaint System allows an individual to file a neglect or abuse complaint concerning livestock and poultry within Kentucky. The system requires the individual filing the complaint to have firsthand knowledge of the abuse or neglect and requires the individual to provide their name and contact information. Anonymous or third party complaints are not permitted and will not be processed.
To file a complaint, fill out the Livestock Welfare Complaint Form and click submit to send the complaint to the Kentucky Office of the State Veterinarian. Complaints may also be filed directly with local law enforcement authorities in the jurisdiction of the reported livestock.
NOTE: It is a Class A misdemeanor in Kentucky to present a false or baseless complaint regarding an animal cruelty matter.