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Transporting Cattle in Canada: What You Need to Know

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As agriculture professionals, we have a vested interest in following the laws of the countries we work in and maintaining acceptable standards for animal welfare. In Canada, regulations around transporting livestock have been designed with the best interests of animals at heart. They do, however, contain some specifics that can confuse even the most ethically minded handler. To help you transport your cattle safely and legally, we’ve put together a brief guide on animal transportation laws in Canada.

Transportation of Compromised Animals

One of the biggest questions about transporting livestock is when and how to transport a compromised animal. Guidelines for transport are set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and explained in Part XII of the document Health of Animals Regulations.

Under these guidelines, an animal is unfit to be transported if it:

  • Has recently given birth
  • Is unable to stand on its own or move without assistance
  • Is suffering from a fracture which could compromise its mobility or cause severe pain during loading or transport
  • Has or is suspected to have a nervous system disorder
  • Has an open wound, ulceration, uterine prolapse or hernia causing it great pain or putting it at risk of infection
  • Is dehydrated, exhausted or feverish
  • Is in shock or near death

Under certain conditions, you are allowed to move a compromised animal if steps are taken to minimize its suffering and additional injury. Always talk to a veterinarian before attempting to transport an animal suffering from frostbite, bloat, labored breathing or other conditions listed on the CFIA website. They may recommend provisions such as providing extra bedding, separating the compromised animal from others in the shipment, or having emergency treatment performed beforehand.

Best Practices for Loading and Transportation

Whether or not an animal has been compromised, it’s still important to be aware of CFIA guidelines for loading and transporting livestock. Some of the agency’s recommendations include:

  • Providing enough space and headroom to allow the animal to stand in a natural position
  • Ensuring transport vehicles are sufficiently ventilated and that food and water is provided at regular intervals
  • Making sure footing surfaces are textured and non-slip
  • Using proper loading devices, such as a loading chute, to minimize stress and suffering
  • Providing immediate and appropriate care for any animal that becomes sick or injured during the trip

The CFIA clearly states that it is illegal to cause any animal undue suffering during the transportation process. If you’re unsure about whether or not an animal is fit to be transported, don’t risk it — get the advice of a veterinarian before proceeding.

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