In an expert report released today, animal welfare scientist Dr. Ian Duncan and ethicist Dr. Bernie Rollin are calling for reforms to the housing, care and breeding of farm animals in Canada. Among their recommendations are for pain relief to be required during routine surgeries such as castration, and for phase-outs of confinement housing systems like battery cages and sow stalls.
The extensive report, informed by scientific evidence and ethical theory, was commissioned by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, also outlines impacts of intensive livestock production on the environmental, public health and rural communities.
The BC SPCA and its national partner, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) are working to advance the welfare of farm animals through participating in the development of new national Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals. Managed by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), a multi-stakeholder policy-setting body, with funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, these new Codes will set Canada’s minimum standards for farm animal welfare and will be used in animal cruelty law enforcement and industry auditing programs.
Code development is well underway for pigs, horses, sheep, beef cattle and fur farming, with publication dates anticipated for early 2013. Code development processes for poultry (including egg-laying hens, meat chickens and turkeys) are also about to commence.
The new Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, published in 2009, addressed a number of animal welfare issues by prohibiting tail docking and requiring that pain control be used when dehorning and castrating cattle. In collaboration with NFACC, Dairy Farmers of Canada are now designing an assurance program to verify that their farms are in fact meeting the Code.
People who are concerned about farm animal welfare can help by voting with their consumer dollars. Conscientious shoppers should look for the SPCA Certified label on eggs, meat and cheese, available at a variety of grocery stores and farmer’s markets throughout B.C. Where SPCA Certified products are not available, consumers can choose other products certified to be raised free-from-confinement as a next best option, and can ask their grocers to stock a wider range of SPCA Certified foods.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.