Most of Canada’s livestock sectors have developed, or are developing, on-farm animal care assessment programs. They include proAction for dairy farmers; Raised by a Canadian Farmer Animal Care Program for chicken farmers; Canadian Pork Excellence; Egg Quality Assurance; and Verified Beef Production Plus; to name a few. These programs also cover biosecurity, food safety, environmental sustainability, and more. Auditing and assessments provide verification that a farm is following best practices, with the goal of finding problems quickly, and continually improving. Depending on the program, failure to follow audit requirements can result in fines, closure to market access, and potentially losing the legal right to produce a product altogether.
Are controls in place to deal with farm animal abuse?
Absolutely! Animal neglect and abuse of any kind is a crime, and is not tolerated. Farmers and ranchers are responsible for caring for their animals properly and humanely, and must follow all laws and regulations, including the federal Criminal
Code, and provincial animal welfare legislation. Most farmers and ranchers do a great job caring for animals, but bad situations sometimes do happen — and they upset other farmers as much as everyone else. That’s why farm organizations in some provinces have developed their own peer services to help improve farm animal care. Ontario farmers created the first council over 30 years ago dedicated to farm animal welfare in Canada, and similar organizations now exist nationally, in other provinces, and in the United States. All farmers, veterinarians, and others who work in the field, are encouraged to call for help if they need it, or immediately report any welfare problems that they observe.
Finding better ways to raise livestock
Research to find better ways to raise livestock and poultry is constant. An example of a problem in need of a better solution is the situation of male chicks in the egg laying sector. The females grow up to lay eggs, but males can’t. They’re not bred for meat production either, as they don’t gain weight as quickly, and produce tougher meat. Since there is no practical role for them on the farm, male chicks are euthanized immediately after hatching, according to standards detailed in the poultry codes of practice. Now, however, Canadian hatcheries have access to egg-sexing technology — technology that can identify the gender of a chicken in individual eggs just days after being laid. This eliminates the need to incubate and hatch eggs that will not produce female chicks, and subsequently, the need to euthanize male chicks.