Farm Animals

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The Issue:

Over 696 million animals are killed in Canada every year for food.

Eat meat? Think the animal you’re eating was raised and killed humanely? Think again! A shocking review revealed that Canada’s laws do not protect animals on factory farms from horrendous treatment and cruel practices and procedures! In 2001, AAC and the Animal Protection Fund released a study, prepared by Canadian lawyers, entitled Anything Goes – An Overview of Canada’s Legal Approach to Animals on Factory Farms. Anything Goes debunks the common notion that animals raised for food are treated “humanely” and exposes abusive and often horrendous practices that are becoming increasingly common across the country. Animals raised in intensive confinement live entirely unnatural lives marked by stress, fear, pain, isolation and a variety of surgical mutilations.

According to Lesli Bisgould, lawyer and one of the authors of the report, “When we cram so many animals into smaller and smaller spaces, when we treat them in ways that deny even the most basic life requirements, and when we pretend that living animals are just cogs in the wheel of production, can we really be surprised when they start to get sick?” Bisgould adds, “It is surprising enough that these atrocious practices occur, but it might shock some people to learn that the law allows and even facilitates them.”

Stephanie Brown, Animal Alliance’s Farm Animal Co-ordinator points out, “In the agricultural context, where some amount of beating, mutilation, intensive confinement, sickness, injury, fatigue, pain, fear and suffering are both predicted and permitted, where the premature death of many animals is expected, even the few regulations that specifically purport to address animal welfare cannot reasonably be expected to be broadly interpreted or enforced in their favour. As gatekeepers of the legislation, politicians must be held responsible for their compliance with these atrocities.”

“Something is rotten in the state of Canadian agribusiness and we found no
evidence within the confines of our study of any real attempt by government
(who has the legal authority) or industry (to whom government has delegated
much of that authority) to fix it,” Bisgould stated.

“Canadian laws, despite paying lip service to the societal expectation that we treat animals “humanely”, actually regard animals as nothing more than production machines. Both on the federal and provincial levels, they facilitate the infliction of the most profound privation and suffering on hundreds of millions of individual animals on an annual basis,” said Brenda Bronfman of the Animal Protection Fund.

A June 2010 Guardian article cites a UN Report encouraging veganism “to save the world from hunger”.


Animal Alliance successfully lobbied to stop the transport of “downers”, animals who are non-ambulatory for numerous reasons. For 10 years, Animal Alliance reviewed thousands of downer reports.  These documents are proof of the gruesome and cruel mistreatment of downer animals from farm to slaughter. The issue of downed animals became known when Bovine Spongiform Encephlopathy (BSE, better know as “mad cow”) surfaced on a farm in Alberta in May 2003. The cow with BSE was a downer and approved for slaughter. Stephanie Brown, of the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA), writes:

What are the lessons from Canada’s single case of BSE?

  • That a single cow can shut down the industry
  • That feeding normally-vegetarian ruminant animals the rendered parts of other animals is risky and unwise;
  • That downers should not be sent to slaughter plants, but killed on the farm and tested, to eliminate unnecessary pain and suffering from transport;
  • That downer animals, once shipped, are frequently rejected for human consumption;
  • That Canadian taxpayers paid through the nose for a crisis that likely could have been avoided;
  • That a massive squandering of animal life is seen in financial terms; and
  • That allowing sick or injured animals to be used for human consumption puts the health of Canadians at risk.

Transport Times:

Canada’s present animal transportation regulations are amongst the worst in the industrialized world. The following animals were approved for direct transport to slaughter by a veterinarian. This information was obtained through Freedom of Information. Their conditions were described as follows:

Cow #1: “multiple necrotic abscesses of the front legs and shoulders, one fractured rib compounded internally and abscessed, necrotic smell to the whole carcass”

Cow #2: “grunting on expiration, froth in mouth, marked ventral oedema and engorged jugular veins, marked SQ and thoracic oedema”

Cow #3: “uterine tear from calving, right uterine horn 300 degree tear proximal to uterine body/cervix, calving chain fell in abdomen”

Cow #4: “ruptured uterus at calving”

Cow #5: “herniated G.I tract through surgical site”

The intervals at which these animals being transported receive food, water and rest are far too long – with devastating consequences for the animals. The transport regulation timelines are currently as follows:

52 hours of continuous transport for ruminants (ie: cows, sheep, goats), plus 5 hours for loading / off loading without food, water or rest, PLUS a possible 24 hour wait at the slaughterhouse for a potential total of 81 hours without food; and

36 hours of continuous transport for monogastric animals (ie: horses, pigs and poultry), plus 5 hours for loading / off loading without food, water or rest, PLUS a possible 24 hour wait at the slaughterhouse for a potential total of 65 hours without food.

Both the European Union – click here to link to EU regs – and the United States – click here to link to the “Twenty Eight Hour Law of 1877″ – have tighter regulations regarding transport.

Animal Alliance, World Society for the Protection of Animals and the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals jointly reviewed CFIA inspection reports. WSPA’s “Curb the Cruelty” report outlines what was found.


UPDATE:  March 28, 2014 – Economics over animal welfare:  Maple Lodge Farms sentenced for animal transport violations

Maple Lodge Farms Probation Order of March 27, 2014

Animal Alliance / Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals 2014 joint report

On October 28, 2009, Alexandra Mendès, Liberal Member of Parliament for Brossard – La Prairie, tabled Bill C-468 to amend section 148 of the regulations to bring them in line with transportation times enforced in the European Union.

Click here for an article from the Algoma News

Click here for an article from Small Farm Canada

The bill was seconded by Frank Valeriote, Liberal Member of Parliament for Guelph, Ontario, and Alexander Atamanenko, NDP Member of Parliament for British Columbia Southern Interior. We continue to pressure the federal Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Gerry Ritz, to amend the transport timelines to a maximum of 8 hours. The bill will have to be reintroduced in the next parlimentary session.

For a report on Canada’s inadequate transportation regulations, click here.

For videos and more information about the abuses that animals must endure at auctions, on farms, in feedlots and in slaughterhouses, visit Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Farmed Animals (

Barn Fires:

More recently we have begun working on the issue of barn fires. In a February 2009 press release, AAEVPC, in collaboration with the CCFA, called upon the Standing Committee on Fire Protection to amend the National Farm Building Code to mandate simple and inexpensive changes to farm buildings to protect the hundreds of millions of animals in intensive livestock confinement operations. Receiving no response, AAC and the CCFA sent a letter (Appendix 1 and Appendix 2) in May 2009 to the Committee, formally requesting a meeting. We are still awaiting a reply.


Manitoba is considering updating its farm building code. Unfortunately, this would not apply to existing farm building, only new and renovated barns. For a May 2010 article, clicking here.

What You Can Do:

Please write and call the Standing Committee on Fire Protection and urge them to amend the National Farm Building Code to protect farm animals from fires. Hand-written letters are best but you can also print our sign-on letter by clicking here .

Chair and Members, Standing Committee on Fire Protection

Canadian Codes Centre, Institute for Research in Construction
National Research Council Canada, Building M-23A
1200 Montreal Road
Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6

Tel: (613) 993-9960
Fax: (613) 952-4040


The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals is comprised of dedicated organizations across the country, including Animal Alliance. For more extensive information about farm animals, please visit