Humane Treatment of Farmed Animals

by Humane Canada
Humane Treatment of Farmed Animals
Toronto Star coverage of chicken abuse
Toronto Star coverage of chicken abuse

WARNING: disturbing, graphic content to follow

WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_cQBFvoo38

Shocking video footage showing workers hitting, kicking and throwing chickens, and smashing them into walls and transport crates has been released in Chilliwack, British Columbia.   The investigation into this incident has resulted in five farm workers being fired with investigators calling the abuse “brutal and sadistic.”

As investigations into this abuse continue, it’s more important than ever to show your support for the humane care and handling of farm animals.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is the only animal welfare organization to sit on the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), a group of diverse stakeholders who develop Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals, create a process for the development of animal care assessment programs and provide a forum for open dialogue on farm animal welfare.

Through NFACC, we have negotiated on behalf of farm animals across Canada. This year, we have already seen successes for egg-laying hens through the “Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pullets and Laying Hens”, a code that sets unprecedented standards for egg-laying hens in North America – rivaling those of the European Union and far surpassing those in the United States.

And, we’re pleased to say that more and more provinces, like Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan, are entrenching these NFACC Codes of Practice into provincial law.

While it’s important to celebrate these successes, it is vital that we continue to fight for those animals that still face abuse, like the chickens in Chilliwack, and your support keeps us at the NFACC table!

We still have a long way to go and we need your help! Your gift to CFHS allows us to continue our vital work in transitioning Canada’s farms to more humane practices!

WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_cQBFvoo38
WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_cQBFvoo38

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Just a few months ago, we saw the most significant change in Canada’s egg industry that has ever happened, and it’s thanks to you, our donors and supporters!

On March 27, the National Animal Farm Care Council (NFACC) released an updated “Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pullets and Laying Hens” after four years of negotiations between CFHS, the egg industry, government and other stakeholders.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is the only animal welfare organization who sat on the NFACC Egg-Laying Hen Code Development Committee.  Our negotiators have worked in partnership with Canadian egg farmers and industry leaders to produce this new code, which sets the most rigorous standards for egg-laying hens in North America and sets unprecedented minimum standards of care for Canada’s hens – rivaling those of the European Union and far surpassing those of the United States.

We asked the Canadian public to write to their MPs, the CFIA and the Minister of Agriculture regarding their concern about the lack of guidelines for how cage-free systems operate in Canada. With that support, we were able to bring forward stringent cage-free standards and begin the phase out of Canada’s cruel battery cages.

As of April 1, 2017, no new barren battery cages will be built in Canada, which is great news for the 90% of egg-laying hens in Canada who are currently living in cramped, barren battery cages unable to walk around or even spreading their wings for their entire lives.

This shift away from battery cages is a substantial achievement for Canada’s hens. It’s expected that 50% of Canada’s hens will be transitioned to enriched cages or cage-free barns by 2024 and between 85-100% will be transitioned by 2031.

The new code will also see much needed improvements in the lives of hens, like the requirement to provide perches, feed and water space, nest boxes, dust-bathing space, quality litter for foraging and upgrades to space allowances and enrichments for all housing systems, from industry-regulated farms to backyard flocks.

Unfortunately, even with these significant changes, the code allows egg farmers to transition to their choice of either enriched cages or cage-free housing systems. While enriched cages are a slight improvement over battery cages, cages are still cages. 

Enriched cages are not much bigger than battery cages, offering a mere 80% more space than the cramped battery cages that hens are being freed from– the equivalent of about two-thirds of a sheet of printer paper. This is a stark contrast to space in cage-free systems, which offer 125% more space per hen than battery cages.

At most, enriched cages should be regarded as an interim step on the way to implementing cage-free housing systems as they prevent hens from performing two of their most important natural behaviours like dust-bathing and foraging.

We still have a long way to go and we need your help! Your support allows us to continue our vital work in transitioning Canada’s farms to more humane practices!

Thank you!

Barbara Cartwright

CEO, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

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Farm Animal: Pig
Farm Animal: Pig

Each and every year more than 700 million animals are transported in Canada. These animals are subject to the most alien and stressful experience of their lifetime. Closed into confined spaces, shoulder-to-shoulder with each other, these animals can be transported in some cases, like cattle and sheep, for up to 52 -hours continuously with no food, water or rest.  They can endure multiple off-and-on loadings, are deprived of a means to relieve themselves and are denied protection from heat, cold and excessive weather. For every long, hard journey like this, Canada’s animals are at an ever-increasing risk of stress-induced illness, injury and death.  As many as two million of these animals, mostly chickens, are found dead on arrival. 

The Canadian Federal Government has finally released the long awaited draft animal transport regulations in an effort to put an end to the staggering mistreatment of animals in transit. Unfortunately, what is proposed is not enough.  The draft regulations, which include transportation conditions for both farm and companion animals, fail to properly address the need for humane practices in four categories: food, water and rest, animals unfit for transport, equipment and conditions, and humane handling.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies asked the public to let their voices be heard.  Now that the public comment period is over, we know that we still have more work to do reviewing the input from Canadians and ensuring that any changes made to the Code of Practice improve animal welfare gains.   We cannot relax our work as we ensure that the changes Canadians felt were important end up reflected in the way animals are transported.

As well in 2017 we expect to see the release of a new code of practice will be released for egg laying hens.  We fought hard to ensure that the draft Code of Practice has the most rigorous and stringent standards for cage-free housing systems put in place in North America, standards on par with the European Union and which far surpass current U.S. standards.  We'll update you as soon as the code is released.

Your donation keeps us at the table working to ensure farm animals are treated humanely.

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As the holidays approach many of us are looking forward to spending time with family and friends and with our beloved pets. It is a time of gratitude and reflection, love and compassion.

I was walking my dog Gus after we had a fresh snowfall recently, and it just brought a smile to my face to watch his excitement. But it also reminded me that not every animal has the safety and protection of being part of a loving family - not every animal can count on someone standing up for them when they need it.   

That’s why we do the work we do at the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CHFS), we stand up for every animal and I feel blessed to know you have been behind us this year.  Your donation put us on Parliament Hill fighting to change our woefully inadequate animal cruelty laws and at the table to press for reforms to the way animals are raised on farms for our use.

Thanks to your donations, we were able to accomplish some incredible things in 2016!

  • We have ended a painful and unnecessary surgery called tail docking for dairy cows.  It was a lengthy and complex negotiation, and their lives are now better.
  • We are almost at the end of the process that will see the new Code of Practice for egg laying hens released. We fought hard to ensure that the draft Code of Practice has the most rigorous and stringent standards for cage-free housing systems put in place in North America, standards on par with the European Union and which far surpass current U.S. standards.   It has taken two years of negotiations to get to this point, and now that the public comment period is over, we know that we still have more work to do reviewing the input from Canadians and ensuring that any changes made to the Code of Practice improve animal welfare gains.
  • Through our direct work at the negotiation table, 2016 saw relief brought to piglets who must now receive pain relief during procedures such as castration and tail docking – regardless of their age.

Can I ask you to take a minute today and make your gift to Canada's largest movement for animal welfare to help us make the animals raised on farms a priority so that they do not suffer and they enjoy a life worth living?

Canada lags shamefully behind many other countries when it comes to animal welfare, and CFHS is pushing hard for improvements at the national level. Our collective voice is being heard and, because of your support, we are building momentum.

But there’s more to do and with your help we can keep pressing for better practices, better conditions and more ambitious timeframes.  

Every time you donate to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, you are helping us win the fight for the highest levels of animal welfare in Canada.  You help us represent the values of Canadians and show our policy-makers that animals and their well-being matter to people across this land.  Thank you for trusting us to be your powerful voice for animals!

With a donation you can help us make the animals raised on farms a priority so that they do not suffer and they enjoy a life worth living.

Your donation will ensure five simple things for farm animals:  

1) Access to fresh water and a diet that maintains their health

2) Appropriate shelter and a comfortable resting area

3) Prevention and rapid diagnoses of injuries and disease

4) Sufficient space and proper facilities so they can express natural behaviours and the   

    company of their own kind and;

5) Conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering.

CFHS continues to lead the charge on three additional Codes of Practice for farmed animals, which are currently in development.  We can only stay at the table and continue to speak up for farm animals with your monetary donation to support this vital work.

Sincerely,

Barbara Cartwright

Chief Executive Officer

P.S.  I want to wish you a happy and prosperous 2017 and let you know that we will continue to fight for what you’ve told us is important to you, a Canada where all animals have a life worth living.   

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Imagine living in a room so crowded that you can’t stretch your arms out fully, where you walk on a wire floor that cuts your feet and causes you pain.   Imagine sharing that room with 6 people and never leaving it until you are hauled away to be slaughtered, breaking your bones in the process because they are now so brittle.  This is what we allow to happen in the name of producing eggs for us.  Currently 90% of egg-laying hens in Canada live in these cruel, barren battery cages.

I’ve seen the conditions these helpless hens have to live in. They experience chronic pain from injuries to their feet due to standing on wire floors, fractures to their bones which are weak due to lack of movement, and severe frustration because they cannot express natural behaviours that are important to their well-being.  All of this during a shortened lifespan of just one year, after which they are considered “spent” because both their production and the quality of the eggshell declines.  It’s a miserable life! The welfare of hens is sacrificed to provide us with eggs.  

I know you will agree with me that there are better ways to raise chickens so the quality of life is higher and they get a chance to express natural behaviours like perching, nesting and dust bathing.

Your donation will ensure five simple things for farm animals:  

  1. Access to fresh water and a diet that maintains their health
  2. Appropriate shelter and a comfortable resting area
  3. Prevention and rapid diagnoses of injuries and disease
  4. Sufficient space and proper facilities so they can express natural behaviours and the company of their own kind and;
  5. Conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is a founding member of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and we are the only organization that negotiates directly with farmers.   We are able to fight for best practices in animal welfare and bring forward the concerns of the Canadian Public directly to the industry so they are heard.    CFHS is the only animal welfare organization sitting on NFACC’s laying hen code development committee.  We need your financial support in order to stay at the table and push to end the use of battery cages and makes sure that the new cage-free systems are as humane as they sound.

In February, you may have seen the announcement from the Egg Farmers of Canada, an organization representing 90% of commercial egg producers in Canada saying that their members would stop using inhumane battery cages by 2036.   They positioned this as a good news announcement.  Discontinuing use of these cages is positive, but why would they need 20 years to make this happen?   Myself and my colleagues challenged this decision and because of your support we have been able to get the date moved up by 5 years and a commitment that starting next year new farms cannot install battery cages.  While not at the ideal yet, this means that 129 million fewer hens will experience the stress and frustration associated with battery cages and we will continue to push for a faster phase out.

We are almost at the end of the process that will see the new Code of Practice for egg laying hens released. We fought hard to ensure that the draft Code of Practice has the most rigorous and stringent standards for cage-free housing systems put in place in North America, standards on par with the European Union and which far surpass current U.S. standards.   It has taken two years of negotiations to get to this point, and now that the public comment period is over, we know that we still have more work to do reviewing the input from Canadians and ensuring that any changes made to the Code of Practice only improve these animal welfare gains.

Unregulated, cage-free housing can be just as crowded and oppressive as barren battery cages, with no enrichment for the hens and much more aggression and stress. 

Once this code is adopted, it will bring in brand-new cage free standards and will ensure that when you see the words “cage free”, it actually means that the welfare of hens is being protected. 

The new standards in this draft code will ensure that cage-free is as progressive as it sounds.   It will mean an end to the chronic pain and suffering for chickens, a real end!

Despite the progress we’ve made, we recognize that these changes need to happen sooner.  These cramped cages prevent hens from walking or even spreading their wings for their entire lives.   That is unacceptable for even one more day.

This is why I am making a special appeal to you today!   The time we spend at the table with the National Farm Animal Care Council works, we’ve proven that.   But there’s more to do and with your help we can keep pressing for better practices, better conditions and more ambitious timeframes.  

Your donations and your support have already made a difference for dairy cows and pigs – now we need your help for the chickens. 

Canada lags shamefully behind many other countries when it comes to animal welfare, and CFHS is pushing hard for improvements at the national level. Our collective voice is being heard and, because of your support, we are building momentum.

CFHS continues to lead the charge on three additional Codes of Practice for farmed animals, which are currently in development.  We can only stay at the table and continue to speak up for farm animals with your monetary donation to support this vital work.

As CEO of the Federation, I am proud of how much we are accomplishing together.   I want to include a special thank you to you because you see that making change happen is not a short-term goal and that it will take all of us working over a number of years to make a difference.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) turns 60 next year and we are proud to be Canada’s organization representing SPCAs and Humane Societies in your local communities, some of the oldest and most trusted organizations in our country.   We are part of a movement which takes its responsibility seriously to ensure our Canada is humane.

Thank you for your past support and could I ask that you consider making a further donation TODAY and provide hope for hens and all animals, join me in being a strong national voice for animals!

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Humane Canada

Location: Ottawa, ON - Canada
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Twitter: @humanecanada
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Melissa Devlin
Ottawa, ON Canada
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