Caring for livestock humanely and sustainably is a critical part of raising farm animals. It’s the right thing to do for animals themselves, and supports farmers as well. Content, healthy animals are more productive, and lead to safer and better quality food. Farmers are also continually working to improve farm animal care based on new and verified science, and are investing in farm animal behaviour research to better understand the needs of livestock and poultry animals.
Why is some Canadian livestock raised indoors?
Grazing animals like sheep, horses, and beef cattle are herd animals, and can live outside together comfortably year round on pasture, rangeland, or in feedlots, as is their nature, with access to shelter for protection from weather elements. This versatility allows for natural behaviours, and works well to maintain the health of the herd. Others might spend the summer months, or some part of the year, on outdoor pastures. Many Canadian farm animals, especially pigs and poultry, cannot survive the harsh winter months outside, and live primarily in barns. In the barn, they’re protected from extreme weather and temperatures, diseases, and predators such as coyotes and ravens. Another reason for indoor housing is that better animal monitoring and care is possible. It’s much easier to ensure that each animal receives the right feed, clean water, and good overall care inside a barn. Many barns have side walls with curtains that can be rolled up when the weather is warmer, letting in fresh air and sunlight. Many animals spend the summer months on outdoor pastures.
Space in the barn
Farmers know that giving animals enough space is good for the animals’ health and wellbeing. The farmers work with experts like veterinarians, animal welfare specialists, and feed nutritionists, to ensure that each animal has easy access to feed and water, room to move and to lie down, and to interact with other animals in the barn. Science-based research on animal welfare recommends the appropriate amount of space needed for a certain number of animals. In the farming world, this concept is called “stocking density”. Animal health and safety, food safety, as well as environmental and economic realities, are all part of housing research.
Did you know...
Many barns have smart sensors that closely monitor key metrics, such as temperature and humidity levels in the barn, and will instantly notify the farmer the moment these conditions change, so that the farmer can take action.