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Farm animals count: New census data shows rise in poultry, cattle numbers

May 10, 2017

There are nearly two million more hens and chickens in British Columbia than there was in 2011, according to Statistics Canada’s release of the 2016 Census of Agriculture data today. Nearly 40,000 more cattle were also reported, while other provinces showed dairy cow decline.

In 2011, there were just under 19 million chickens raised for meat and for eggs in B.C. compared to the 20.5 million reported in 2016. Cows raised for dairy and cattle raised for meat increased from about 620,000 in 2011 to 659,000 in 2016. Such increases showcase the need to pay attention to farm animal welfare in B.C., says Amy Morris, BC SPCA officer, policy and outreach.

“This rise – especially in poultry being raised each year – demonstrates the importance of the most recently developed Codes of Practice for both chickens used for meat and eggs,” Morris says, noting that in the past seven years, the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) updated Codes of Practice for 10 different species of farm animals.

“It also shows how important an update to federal animal transportation laws is – those haven’t been changed since 1977 and better standards are long overdue.”

In B.C. alone, more than 100 million animals are raised on farms each year.

“This is a great time for British Columbians to share how they value farm animal welfare with their elected representatives,” Morris says.

“All of these animals would benefit from the NFACC Codes of Practice being incorporated by reference into law, making the standards for raising animals clear in the province of British Columbia.”

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