Humane Treatment of Farmed Animals

by Humane Canada
Humane Treatment of Farmed Animals

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Humane Canada, as the founding animal welfare organization onthe National Farm Animal Care Council, is involved in several areas that promise improvements for the now more than 800 million animals that are raised for food in Canada.  The Codes of Practice are nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of farm animals.  The Codes serve as the national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices but require constant monitoring and evaluation to ensure they are doing what is intended.  To do this we support the development of assessment programs to ensure the Codes are being followed on farms but it is always a challenge to find the resources to fund our organization’s participation with industry.

We are now involved in updating the Code for dairy cattle and the Code for goats, and we have begun the work on development a Code that will examine the transportation of animals, ensuring their care meets or exceeds the federal regulations. 

Your support will continue to ensure animal welfare organizations have a seat at the table and that we advocate for the best measures using science and an understanding of an animal’s needs.

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We have a new federal government in Canada that is at work to develop priorities for the next four years. During the election period, we shared Humane Canada's election platform with candidates to help inform them about the important animal welfare issues in our country. Now we need to let our Members of Parliament (MP) know that their constituents expect animal welfare to be a priority. 

Please take a moment to tell us your top three animal welfare priorities. We'll share your priorities with our newly elected MPs and the Federal Government.  

Humane Canada successfully works across party lines to advance animal welfare legislation. We will continue to build on the critical advances we made earlier this year. Please tell us what issues are most important to you, and we'll make sure to ask the new federal government for the most urgent changes first.

Make your voice heard!

Thank you so much for adding your voice to help animals. Once we collect the results we'll be in touch to share how you can help ensure your MP knows what issues Canadians have said are most important.


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Humane Canada created the following recommendations as a guide to action that can be taken to create a more humane Canada.  With a federal election underway in Canada we are working to ensure that the next government has these issues on their radar and that we will have a plan for action once the government is elected.

Each year, more than 700 million animals are raised on farms in Canada for food. There is increasing public awareness and scrutiny regarding the welfare of farm animals in all phases of their life: while on the farm, during transportation and at slaughter. The public has an expectation that farm animals should, and will, be treated humanely. This expectation is translating into public pressure on the farming and retail sector to eliminate certain farming practices from their supply chain. The farming and retail sector are making commitments to the public, especially with regards to the phasing out and elimination of confinement housing and painful practices. Many Canadian farming practices, however, still lag behind higher animal welfare standards in other jurisdictions.


  • A commitment to secure, continuous and stable funding of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)to underwrite the Codes of Practice process, including funding for both the ongoing review of existing codes to ensure they stay relevant and the development of new Codes of Practice. Funding should include support for compliance in the form of assurance programs to monitor adherence to the requirements and recommendations identified within each individual Code and funding for the animal welfare experts that negotiate these codes with industry.
  • The current Codes of Practices are advancing animal welfare by setting target phase-out dates for various painful practices and for confinement housing systems. Additional support needs to be in place to ensure that producers can meet or exceed these targeted phase-out dates. This would include funding for infrastructure, on-farm training of new practices, and support for research into new technology and innovation.
  • Canada’s current animal transportation regulations are inadequate when compared to international standards. Recent updates to the regulations felt short of recognized animal welfare science and our global counterparts. Changes to the transportation regulations need to be brought forward immediately.
  • Providing funding and resources to ensure there is a robust inspection and enforcement by Canadian Food Inspection Agency of requirements for humane transport and slaughter.
  • Canada is a respected world leader in the area of animal welfare research. This important research is what forms the basis for the development of Canada’s Codes of Practice and identifies best management practices. There needs to be a commitment that Canada’s animal welfare research programs will be given long-term, ongoing support.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for labeling schemes and should allow for labeling of the agricultural practices used to produce animal products which allows consumers to make informed choices about humane alternatives.
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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.


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Humane Canada is the founding national animal welfare organization of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), which coordinates Canada’s approach to advance farm animal welfare through the development of species-specific Codes of Practice for on farm care and handling.

We provide subject experts who sit as Humane Canada representatives during negotiations with stakeholders throughout the Code Development Committee process. We advocate for an end to intensive confinement and painful practices for all farm animals. Humane Canada negotiates the development and review of these codes with the goal of creating better living environments and more humane treatment for farm animals. We also give direct input on agriculture policy at the federal and provincial/territorial level.

We work to ensure the fundamental needs of farm animals are met.

These can be described simply as five basic needs :

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

2) Appropriate shelter and a comfortable resting area

3) Prevention and rapid treatment of injuries and disease

4) Sufficient space and proper facilities so they can express natural behaviours and the be in company of their own kind and;

5) Conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering.

A typical Code negotiation takes 3 years. For example, Humane Canada representatives engaged in lengthy and challenging negotiations to improve the welfare of egg-laying hens, advocating for an end to cruel and unnecessary battery cages, which cause them extreme frustration and physical pain. We worked hard to ensure the new Code of Practice would include requirements for cage-free systems as farms transition away from battery cages.

In 2019 Humane Canada representatives will be involved in reviewing the goat, dairy and pig codes and working on a new code for aquaculture. As well we will be engaging in a transportation code development process that promises to do more for farm animals than the federal government’s current animal transportation regulations which are dangerously out-of-date causing the death of more than 1.6 million farm animals each year by freezing, dehydration, heat exhaustion, trampling and disease.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) asked for public comment on proposed amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations: Part XII which deals with humane transportation and that public comment period ended on February 15, 2017. 14 months later, we're still waiting for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to release the updated regulations, which have been in the works for more than ten years.

Your support ensures animal welfare is front and centre in these deliberations and that we can continue to press forward to maintain and improve animal welfare.

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Organization Information

Humane Canada

Location: Ottawa, ON - Canada
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @humanecanada
Project Leader:
Melissa Devlin
Ottawa, ON Canada
$18,442 raised of $54,207 goal
447 donations
$35,765 to go
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