Animal Codes of Practice

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More about Animal Codes of Practice

Codes of Practice are developed by industry and veterinary associations in order to raise the standards of animal care. These standards are recommended (not required) practices to achieve a high standard of animal welfare.

Codes of Practice for the Handling of Farm Animals

Codes of Practice for the handling of farm animals are a series of nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of different types of farm animals. The Codes cover housing and management practices for animals on farms as well as best practices for their transportation and processing.

As noted above, the Codes are voluntary. They contain requirements from current legislation. They also contain recommendations to help farmers and others in the agriculture and food sector compare and improve their own management practices.

The Codes of Practice are managed by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFAAC). The codes are developed with input from the industry, scientists, transporters, veterinarians, animal welfare agencies and government. These Codes serve as our national understanding of farm animal care requirements and recommended best practices. They are scientifically informed, practical and reflect societal expectations for animal care.

Requirements in Codes of Practice can refer to a regulatory requirement, which is a law established by the government. These laws are found in government legislation.

Recommended best practices include those practices that encourage high standards of care.

Why are Codes of Practice developed?

New or updated Codes of Practice are developed for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the Codes reflect concern for the humane treatment and care of farm animals.

Second, the agriculture and food sector, government and humane societies recognize that even the best laws have their limitations. Codes of Practice are developed to support and supplement, not replace, existing laws and regulations. Because they are not laws, the Codes are more flexible and can address new scientific findings and discoveries, without requiring complex and lengthy legislative changes. Codes of Practice are being developed with the intent that they will be reviewed every five years.

Who develops the Codes of Practice?

Any new Codes of Practice are approved by a committee made up of representatives from farm groups, veterinarians, animal scientists, federal and provincial governments, related agricultural sectors, animal welfare groups and interested individuals. The recommendations contained in each Code reflect the consensus, or agreement, of the committee.

In addition to approving Codes of Practice, the committees periodically review them to ensure they reflect changes in current production and management practices that come about due to changes in technology and new scientific understandings.

What is contained in the Codes?

Codes of Practice provide recommendations for meeting the basic needs of farm animals. They outline acceptable standards for shelter and housing, feed and water, health care, breeding, animal identification, handling and supervision, transportation, sales yard and processing facilities and emergency procedures.

Codes of Practice provide information on basic principles for raising and handling livestock. These principles include:

  • Adequate air, water, and feed
  • Safe housing and sufficient space
  • Appropriate complexity of the environment
  • Regular supervision and effective health care
  • Low-stress handling.

The Codes are based on the soundest current practices. They identify where animal welfare could be at risk and what precautions can be taken to eliminate such risks.

What Animals and / or Issues are Covered?

Codes of Practice have been developed for:

  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Poultry
  • Veal calves
  • Pigs
  • Cattle
  • Animals raised for their fur
  • Farmed deer and elk
  • Horses
  • Livestock transport
  • Bison
  • Farmed Finfish

Codes of Practice for the Care of Dogs and Cats

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has developed voluntary Kennel Codes of Practice to provide guidelines and standards of care for dogs and cats. These Codes of Practice are mainly developed for dog and cat breeding and boarding kennels or establishments. However, the Codes provide practices that can also apply to dog or cat owners in any setting.

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