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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 only legal if the person is using “generally accepted practices of animal management“. Canada’s Codes of Practice describe these generally accepted practices as they relate to farm animal production, so updating the Codes is an important step in raising the bar for farm animal welfare.

Improvements to the Codes of Practice for farm animals

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) is the not-for-profit organization that coordinates development of the Codes of Practice for farm animals. NFACC assembles a committee of representatives from the farm industry, food retail industry, SPCAs and the veterinary community to write each code based on scientific research 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 encourages the public to get involved in the revision of each Code of Practice by participating in the public comment periods.

Since 2009, the BC SPCA has 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 to move, less pain, prompt veterinary care, more opportunities to be with other animals of their kind and to behave as they would 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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