The BC SPCA is Helping to Make a Change
Ensuring Welfare On Farms
Farm animal welfare is increasingly important to Canadians. We know British Columbians want a system in place that ensures dairy cattle and all farm animals are treated humanely.
In 2009, a new Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle (the Dairy Code) was published and the BC SPCA represented Canada's SPCAs on the development committee, achieving a progressive new standard for the welfare of dairy cattle in Canada.
The BC SPCA and its national partner, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, have been asking all of Canada's farm animal industries to implement monitoring programs and continue to encourage Dairy Farmers of Canada to work towards the goal of making the Dairy Code a reality for B.C. dairy cows.
However, the good news is that the Provincial Government working with the BC Dairy Association and the BC SPCA has taken steps to ensure better treatment of dairy cows in British Columbia. On July 8, 2015 the B.C. government announced it will adopt a new regulation to improve protection of dairy cattle within the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act). The BC Milk Marketing Board has also incorporated the code into its requirements for farms, and the Dairy Farmers of Canada have adopted the Dairy Code into its new national ProAction on-farm assessment program.
These new regulations will adopt the 2009 Dairy Code into the PCA Act, specifically outlining what is considered a ‘generally accepted practice’. Anyone causing distress to an animal while conducting a ‘generally accepted practice’ is exempt from prosecution for animal cruelty. Until now, these ‘generally accepted practices’ have not been clearly defined as they are in a number of other provinces.
With the adoption of the Dairy Code into B.C. law, there will now be clear guidelines on what is and what is not a ‘generally accepted practice’ for dairy farming.
We are thrilled by this recent development and look forward to our continued joint efforts to improve animal welfare with all our industry and government stakeholders.
Thank your MLA!
Take minute to thank your MLA and the Minister of Agriculture for making this commitment to improve animal welfare in this province.
Learn more about the Codes of Practice
The Codes of Practice lay out the expectations for standards of care to be provided to farm animals in Canada. Dairy Farmers of Canada expects all of their members to implement the Code on their farms and the Codes are used to determine what constitutes "reasonable and generally accepted practices" in investigations launched under BC's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The Code stipulates 60 clear requirements for the care and handling of dairy cattle, including the following highlights:
Animal handlers must be familiar with cattle behavior and quiet handling techniques either through training, experience or mentorship.
Cattle that are sick, injured, in pain, or suffering must be provided with prompt medical care, or be euthanized. Cattle with untreatable conditions, not responding to treatment, or not fit for transport must be promptly euthanized.
Cattle must have a bed that provides comfort, insulation, warmth, dryness and traction. Bare concrete is not acceptable as a resting surface.
Housing must allow calves to easily stand up, lie down, turn around, adopt normal resting postures, and have visual contact with other calves.
Dairy cattle must not be tailed docked unless medically necessary.
Pain control must be used when dehorning, disbudding, or castrating.
The entire Code can be downloaded on the National Farm Animal Care Council's website.
The BC SPCA operates SPCA Certified, an assurance to consumers that food products come from farms where high standards of welfare are provided. The SPCA Certified Standards ensure that dairy cattle are provided with requirements found in the new Codes and further welfare requirements such as access to the outside in dry seasons.
Only one BC dairy farm is currently SPCA Certified – Little Qualicum Cheeseworks.
To learn more, explore our website for information on the housing and welfare of Canada's dairy cattle, and SPCA Certified, including where you can find our products.
Government announces great moos for dairy cattle in British Columbia (July 8, 2015)
BC SPCA recommends charges of animal cruelty against eight employees of a Chilliwack dairy farm (June 9, 2014)