Our mission: To protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

Dairy Cattle


Over one million dairy cattle are raised on farms in Canada under a variety of conditions.

B.C.'s dairy cattle have freedom of movement in concrete pens and sleep in stalls that are usually bedded with sand, sawdust, or a rubber mat. Unfortunately, concrete floors and improperly bedded stalls can cause painful sores on cows' legs and feet, and on most farms, cattle are rarely given access to pasture. As a result, over 25% of high-producing dairy cows in B.C. are clinically lame (cannot walk normally) – on some farms this figure exceeds 50%.

Painful procedures also cause concern for the welfare of dairy cattle. All heifers (female dairy calves) are dehorned at a young age in order to prevent injury to each other or to people later in life. Using a procedure called "disbudding", the small emerging horn bud is burned with a hot iron or a caustic chemical paste to prevent it from growing.

In 2008 and 2009, the BC SPCA worked with farmers, scientists, veterinarians and government agencies to design Canada's new Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, which address concerns around housing and painful practices, among other issues. Read more about what these new Codes require.

To learn more about how dairy cattle are raised in Canada, read our detailed factsheets:

Dairy cattle production

Dairy cattle welfare

Dairy cattle lameness

Veal calf production - what happens to male dairy calves?

Detailed comparison of standards for dairy cattle: SPCA Certified, Organic, Codes of Practice

printer-friendly version Printer Friendly version

Imagine Canada Accreditation

Join the conversation; follow us online: