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    Ag More Than Ever

Six things to know about livestock care

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It’s easy to appreciate why so many people are passionate about animal welfare issues. And farmers are no exception.

Misinformation about farm animal care practices has unfortunately led some to question whether or not animal welfare is a priority on Canada’s Farms. In fact, the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s 2018 Public Trust research reports that 61 % of Canadians are unsure if Canadian meat is derived from humanely treated animals.

The good news is that consumers are genuinely more curious about how their food is raised. It’s crucial that we respond to this curiosity with our own curiosity to understand concerns, remain calm, be wary of our own assumptions and share our personal experiences.

To help support these conversations, we’ve prepared some messaging about Canadian agriculture’s commitment to animal care.

Photo credit: Dapney Daigle, Bonsecours, Quebec

Caring for animals

Myth: Farmers do not care about their animals.

Fact: Farmers are constantly working to ensure their animals are content and healthy by providing them with the best care available.

Truth: When it comes to caring for animals, farmers take their responsibility very seriously – and they genuinely enjoy it. Not only is providing animals with proper care the right thing to do, but it is also a good business practice since comfortable and healthy animals are more productive and produce higher quality products. That’s why Canadian farmers are always striving to improve farm animal care and proudly invest in research that will help better understand the needs of animals.

Codes of Practice

Myth: There are no standards of practice for caring for farm animals.

Fact: There are national Codes of Practice that outline how different animals are to be raised and cared for on Canadian farms.

Truth: Like all animal owners, farmers must follow laws for humane treatment. However, in Canada, there are also national Codes of Practice for different livestock and poultry species. These codes have been developed in collaboration with key stakeholders, including farmers/producers, transporters, veterinarians, animal welfare and enforcement agencies, retail and food service organizations, processors, governments and researchers.  They include requirements and recommendations on housing, feed and water, processing, and other practices. Many livestock and poultry sectors have also developed, or are developing, animal care assessment programs based on the codes to make sure best practices are in place and identify any problems to help farmers continually improve.

Animal abuse

Myth: Animal abuse is rampant and unregulated.

Fact: Neglect and abuse of animals of any kind is against the law.

Truth: Animal abuse is never okay, under any circumstances. Like all animal owners, farmers and ranchers are responsible for properly and humanely caring for their animals. These responsibilities are supported by the federal Criminal Code as well as provincial animal care legislation. Animal abuse is very rare, and when these situations do occur, Canada’s farmers are actively part of the solution. Cases of animal abuse are handled differently in each province, be it through peer or professional reporting processes or relationships with provincial animal welfare groups.

On the road

Myth: Transportation of animals causes undue pain and suffering for animals.

Fact: Animal care practices are just as crucial during transportation as on the farm, and federal regulations govern the humane transport of animals into, within, and leaving Canada.

Truth: Ensuring an animal is treated humanely doesn’t end when it leaves the farm. Federal regulations detail the rules for transporting farm animals – such as when an animal is unfit for travel, requirements for food and water, and how many animals can travel together. Plus, inspections are done at various locations to check for compliance. Canada also has a livestock transport training initiative. The Canadian Livestock Transport (CLT) Certification Program allows those involved in transporting animals to receive training and become certified in proper handling techniques.

Livestock housing

Myth: It is inhumane to keep animals inside barns.

Fact: Keeping certain animals in barns helps protect their health and safety.

Truth: Farmers use different housing options for different animals. While some grazing animals, such as beef cattle, live outside year-round (with access to food and shelter), many others, like pigs and chickens, are often kept inside barns to ensure their well-being. Having certain animals inside allow farmers to monitor each animal’s health and nutrition more easily. It also protects them from predators, diseases, and extreme weather.

The future of animal agriculture

Myth: There is no need for animal agriculture and in the future, it will cease to exist.

Fact: Canadians benefit from a variety of nutritious and healthy protein choices to feed themselves and their families and will continue to do so in the future.

Truth:  Every day, Canadians across the country make food choices that reflect their needs, their personal values and their cultural traditions. Livestock and animal by-products will continue to be part of that offering to not only feed us but also feed our pets and to manufacture products used in human medicine as well as other everyday products. Canada’s farm families depend on healthy and productive farm animals to earn a living and will continue to invest in research and on-farm improvements to ensure their animals receive the best care possible.

Further reading:

Agriculture in the Classroom (snapAG) – Animal Care

Alberta Farm Animal Care

Alberta Farm Animal Care – YouTube videos

All About Food – Behind the Barn Door: All About Livestock Farms

All About Food – Following Animal Welfare Regulations (video)

Beef Magazine – Addressing the Emotion of Animal Welfare

Canadian Food Inspection Agency – Humane Transport/Animal Welfare

Chicken Farmers of Canada – Animal Care

CommonGround – Animal Welfare

Dairy Farmers of Canada – Our Commitment to Our Animals

Dr. Temple Grandin – Animal Welfare

Egg Farmers of Canada – Animal Care

Farm & Food Care Ontario – Farm Animal Care

Farm & Food Care Prince Edward Island – Farm Animal Care

Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan – Farm Animal Care


National Farm Animal Care Council

The Real Dirt on Farming (pages 52-57)

The Real Dirt on Farming Blog – Farmers Helping Farmers

The Real Dirt on Farming Blog – Do You Know What Animal Welfare Really Means?

The Real Dirt on Farming Blog – Animal Care Specialists Focus on Care in Transport

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