The humane transportation of livestock is an issue that I’ve devoted a lot of time and space to covering while working for Truck News and Truck West.
Although animal haulers represent a small segment of the trucking industry, they are an easy target for animal rights activists who come from all over the globe to examine Canada’s animal transportation practices. Like Paul McCartney visiting the East Coast this spring to demonize the seal hunt, they come from all over because they’ve heard horror stories about the treatment of livestock during transportation in Canada.
Let’s face it, Canada is an enormous country and transporting animals from point-to-point isn’t a simple task. While 20 years ago it may have been acceptable to pile a herd of cattle into a ‘liner and head on a non-stop cross-country run from Calgary to Quebec, times have changed. Under today’s regulations, it’s possible to legally haul livestock for 81 hours without feed (from the time they leave the farm to the time they are slaughtered) and up to 57 hours without water.
That’s no longer socially acceptable and while old habits die hard, it’s important the industry continues to keep up with the times.
To its credit, the animal transportation industry has done just that.As reported recently in Truck News, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been revamping some archaic livestock transportation guidelines to address the regulations’ shortcomings. Out west, a program is being developed that would provide truck drivers with the training they need to safely transport livestock. It’s not just a matter of driving the truck from the farm to the abattoir. Livestock haulers require a unique set of skills that enables them to read livestock behaviour and provide adequate ventilation and care along the trip.
When you’re hauling livestock, there’s no room for slip-ups. The do-gooders are everywhere with their camcorders waiting for you to make a mistake. Show up at the abattoir with a load of downers or dead animals and you run the risk of doing your company and the entire industry irreparable harm.
Fortunately, the livestock trucking industry has been very proactive and has kept one step ahead of the activists. It’s hard to sustain a smear campaign against an industry that’s taken it upon itself to improve its practices and better itself.