Humane Treatment of Farmed Animals

by Humane Canada
Humane Treatment of Farmed Animals

New national Codes of Practice for the welfare of horses, pigs, cattle and sheep are now entering the final stages of negotiation and public comment periods will be held in fall of 2012 and early 2013, providing an opportunity to the public to express their expectations for Canada to meet higher standards.

The process of developing an implementing Codes of Practice is a long and complicated one.  It's important to note that once these codes are finished being revised, it will be at least five years before they’re revisited. We need to pour significant resources into our work to improve them right now. Every dollar contributed TODAY by caring Canadians like you puts us in a better position to secure a humane life for farm animals.   

If you are interested in being involved in the process of submitting concerns/expectations, please let me know at:

Convened by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), the Codes set out minimum requirements for treatment of all farm animals in Canada and serve as reference documents for animal cruelty law. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies serves as the voice of the Canadian humane movement at the table.

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As the CFHS is pushing for more humane standards of care on Canadian farms, it might help you the Five Freedoms.

We use the Five Freedoms to guide and determine animal welfare. The Five Freedoms describe conditions that must be fulfilled in order to prevent the suffering of domesticated animals in human care.This is a concept that was originally developed in 1965 by the UK Government based on the "Brambell" report and is specifically designed to guide how animals under human control should be treated.

The five freedoms are:

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst

2. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease

3. Freedom from distress

4. Freedom from discomfort

5. Freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being

These five freedom concepts are what drives the CFHS when we negotiating on behalf of Canadian farm animals.

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As the only national animal welfare organization represented on the National Farm Animal Care Council, the CFHS is tasked with the responsibility of advocating for the welfare of over 700 million farm animals across Canada.

One of the key farm animal codes currently being negotiated is the pork code.  This code will determine a farmer’s responsibility to the welfare of his/her animals, including the amount of enrichment time that is needed and laying out a timeline to phase out the use of gestation stalls. 

As we are influencing the process from one end, it is great to see retailers and major food services companies pushing for animal welfare reform from the other end.  Recently, McDonalds and the Compass Group have made public their plans to only purchase humanely raised pork products.

More information on the Compass Group decision can be found here:

More information on McDonalds can be found here:

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The group of industry codes currently being revised by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) include:

  • Pigs:  scientific reports on industry best practices and research have been submitted to the code committee for review and negotiation.
  • Beef: scientific reports on industry best practices and research have been submitted to the code committee for review and negotiation.
  • Horses:  scientific reports on industry best practices and research have been submitted to the code committee for review and negotiation.  In addition the horse owner community is being surveyed to determine their top concerns with respect to humane practices specific to horse care.
  • Mink and Fox:  scientific reports on industry best practices and research have been submitted to the code committee for review and negotiation.
  • Sheep:  this specific code was started later than the others and is approximately 25% completed.

In addition to the current group of codes, the poultry industry has approached the NFACC to start the code process for meat poultry (broilers and turkey), laying hens and egg producers.  This group of codes should start in 2012/2013.


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To address the deplorable standards of animal care in some sectors of the Canadian agricultural industry, the CFHS was an instrumental partner in the creation of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) in 2005.  The NFACC is a collaborative partnership of diverse stakeholders that is mandated to develop industry-monitored and provincially-enforced Codes of Practice (standards of care) for Canadian farm animals.  It is the national lead for farm animal care issues in Canada.

More than 600 million farm animals are raised and killed in Canada every year for food, and many routinely suffer from stressful and painful experiences like tail amputations, castration, de-horning, branding (typically, all without anaesthetic); confinement to restrictive living spaces; and deplorable transportation practices…all in the name of profit and cheap food.

Most recently the NFACC developed and implemented a revised code for dairy cattle which sets some of the highest standards in the world for the treatment of dairy cows.  For just one example, the code now forbids dairy farmers from amputating the tails of their cows — once a common industry practice.

Currently being revised, and slated for completion by the end of 2013, are codes covering the following meat animals: beef cattle, chickens, turkeys, pigs and sheep.  The following non-meat animal codes are also being revised: horses, farmed mink and ranched fox. 

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Humane Canada

Location: Ottawa, ON - Canada
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @humanecanada
Project Leader:
Melissa Devlin
Ottawa, ON Canada
$18,063 raised of $54,207 goal
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