As a founding member of the National Farm Animal Care Council, Humane Canada has been at the table working to advance animal welfare on Canada’s farms. This year the council will begin reviewing transport conditions in an effort to put in place the first code of practice.
In Canada each year, approximately 700 million farm animals are transported from farm to auction or slaughter. Approximately 1.6 million of these animals, mostly chickens, are found dead on arrival. Many more arrive sick or injured following their long, grueling journeys and need to be euthanized.
It wasn’t always this way. Farm animals used to be bred, born and slaughtered close to the farms on which they were raised. But, in recent years, the food processing industry has become more centralized, fueled by public demand for cheaper food, resulting in longer trips to slaughter.
Transportation is the most alien and stressful experience that a farm animal will go through in its lifetime. The longer and harder this experience is, the more risk there is of stress-induced illness, injury and death. These animals deserve more dignity and care – just because they are headed to slaughter does not mean we should allow them to suffer while they are still alive. All animals must be given the utmost protection, regardless of their circumstances.
When updates to the transportation regulations were announced in February by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency we were disappointed the government missed an opportunity to significantly improve the conditions of those animals. While the regulations were updated they didn’t go far enough and the codes of practice represent our next best opportunity to make improvements.
Humane Canada is currently working on identifying key animal welfare experts to sit at the negotiation table who will advocate to advance the welfare of farm animal’s when they are being transported in Canada.
The costs of making improvements to transport conditions for farm animals must be partly shouldered by the consumers of the food. If Canadians want food that is produced humanely, then they must be willing to shift more of their household expenditures towards their grocery bill to help cover the cost of farmers and transporters providing better welfare for their animals.