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Laws for animals on farms

The laws and standards for animals on farms are developed by the provincial and federal government, as well as the National Farm Animal Care Council. You can help update these laws by subscribing to our action alerts.

Laws to prevent suffering, abuse and cruelty on farms

The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits causing “unnecessary pain, suffering or injury” to an animal and has two sections related to animals — one specific to cattle and the other more general to all animals.

In B.C., the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is written so that a person must protect an animal from being in distress. Distress includes:

  • Being deprived of adequate food, water, shelter, ventilation, light, space, exercise, care or veterinary treatment
  • Being kept in conditions that are unsanitary
  • Not being protected from excessive heat or cold
  • Being injured, sick, in pain or suffering
  • Being abused or neglected

Causing distress to an animal is legal if the person is using generally accepted practices of animal management. Canada’s Codes of Practice describe these generally accepted practices, so updating them is important to raise the bar for farm animal welfare.

Improvements to standards of care for farm animals

The National Farm Animal Care Council is a not-for-profit organization that develops the Codes of Practice for farm animals. A committee of representatives from farm industry, food retailers, SPCAs and the veterinary community writes each code based on scientific evidence and public values. The BC SPCA partners with the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies to represent the animal welfare movement on these committees. The BC SPCA also asks the public to get involved during the public comment periods for the Codes of Practice.

Since 2009, we have successfully changed Canadian care standards for cattle raised for milk or beef, pigs, horses, sheep, chickens, turkeys, egg-laying hens, bison, rabbits and calves raised for veal. Our goal is for animals to receive the Five Freedoms, including better living conditions, more space, less pain, prompt veterinary care, and more opportunities to be with other animals and behave naturally.

You can help farm animals

Higher standards are needed to protect animals and give them a life worth living. We need your help to tell farmers and politicians that animal lives matter!

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