OTTAWA, Ont. – The federal government announced changes to the Health of Animals – Transport Regulations in an effort to improve animal safety and wellness while being transported.
The amendments include those related to space requirements and overcrowding of animals, including preferred positions for particular species. They also include container and conveyance requirements when it comes to design, condition, and maintenance.
Maximum time intervals for providing feed, safe water, and rest for animals have also been changed. For beef and dairy cattle, for example, the maximum number of hours for feed and water will be 36 hours, down from the current 48.
Broiler chickens spent laying in hens and rabbits will need to be fed every 28 hours and provided safe water every 24 hours. Current requirements for both is 36 hours.
Other areas where amendments have been made to the regulation are during the transfer of care, recordkeeping, and monitoring of the animals being transported.
The government estimates several commercial carriers will be affected by these regulatory changes, including 470 cattle carriers, 480 that transport pigs, 135 poultry carriers, and around 84,000 livestock and poultry producers.
Everyone involved in the transport of animals will require training on the new regulations and will need to maintain records for each shipment.
The government indicates that any commercial carrier or person transporting animals by land in the course of business or for financial benefit will be expected to carry incremental costs as a result of the new requirements.
Benefits of the new regulations, according to the federal government, include increased compliance and alignment with regulatory requirements, consumer confidence in animal food products, and improved animal welfare and prevention of suffering during transport.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), however, does not agree the new rules will enhance animal welfare.
The CCA pointed to research from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada that says 99.95% of cattle on long-haul trips reach their destination in good condition.
The CCA believes the new regulations will increase stress to cattle and their chance of injury due to changes requiring more loading and unloading for rest stops.
The association also questions why the government announced the changes before research on the transport of animals is complete, saying data is to collected through 2021.
“To ensure proper process, specific proposals need to be researched to understand how they affect the wellbeing of the animal,” the CCA indicated on its website. “Without fully evaluating unknowns, such as the stress of unloading and reloading versus the stress of completing the journey, the effects of temperature, trailer design, loading densities, as well as whether rest stops do, in fact, relieve stress, the government is taking a risky approach with the revised regulations that we anticipate will move industry’s good record away from, rather than closer to, 100%.”
Amendments to Health of Animals – Transport Regulations will come into effect February 2020.