Health of Animals Regulations Part XII: Transportation of Animals-Regulatory Amendment – Interpretive Guidance for Regulated Parties

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction

Transportation is one of the most stressful events that an animal will experience during its life due to the unfamiliar surroundings, noises, vibrations and movements, the proximity to humans, handling and unfamiliar animals, exposure to adverse conditions, and the lack of access to feed and water. An animal's condition can deteriorate quickly in these circumstances. The proposed regulatory amendment has modernized the previous Transportation of Animals regulations to improve animal welfare during this critical time.

This document has been produced to provide interpretive guidance for regulated parties on the proposed regulatory amendments to the Government of Canada's Health of Animals Regulations (HAR) Part XII – Transportation of Animals. Amendments to Part XII of the HAR are being proposed to better align Canada's requirements with current industry practices, international standards, new science and societal expectations about the proper care and transport of all animals into, within and out of Canada. The proposed amendments to Part XII have been pre-published in Canada Gazette, Part I (CGI).

The humane treatment of animals during transport is a shared responsibility between individuals who may be involved at any stage of the process. The process of animal transport begins with planning the transport, assembling the animals, loading, confinement in a crate or conveyance for the purpose of transport, transporting the animals and ends with unloading the animal from the conveyance or container.

This interpretive guidance document is based on the proposed amendments to Part XII of the HAR. Since the amended Regulations have not yet come into force this document may be further revised. Therefore, the public is advised to consult the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website for an updated version of this document following publication in Canada Gazette Part II.  In addition, subscribers to CFIA's Email Notification Subscription (Listserv) will be notified of any changes.

1.1 Regulatory Authority

The CFIA has the authority to enforce and administer the federal Health of Animals Act (HAA) and the Health of Animals Regulations (HAR). Subparagraph 64(1)(i)(ii)(iii) of the HAA provides authority to make regulations for the transportation of animals into, within or out of Canada.

1.2 Regulated Parties:  Who will be subject to these regulations?

The proposed amendments of Part XII apply to those involved directly or indirectly in the transport of live animals. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • animal owners,
  • producers,
  • buyers,
  • exporters,
  • importers,
  • transporters,
  • animal handlers,
  • processors,
  • auction markets,
  • assembly yards, and
  • feed, water and rest stations.

1.3 Regulated activities: where does the regulatory authority for animal transport begin and end?

The proposed amendments of Part XII apply to all modes of transport including aircraft, carriage, motor vehicle, trailer, railway car, vessel, crate, cargo container or any other conveyance or contrivance used to move animals.

The proposed amendments of Part XII apply to all aspects of animal transport starting with:

  1. handling the animal(s) for the purpose of loading,
  2. loading the animal(s),
  3. transporting the animal(s), and
  4. unloading the animal(s).

In the case of poultry, rabbits and other animals transported in crates or containers, transport begins when the first animal is handled to be placed into a crate or container, and ends when the last animal is removed from the crate or container, or if it is to be stunned without removing it from the crate, when the crate enters the stunning chamber (e.g. Controlled Atmosphere Stunning Systems).  For other animals not transported in a crate or container, the transport starts when the first animal is handled to be loaded and ends when the last animal is unloaded from the conveyance.

The HAR does not apply to non-transport-related animal welfare issues such as the general handling and treatment of animals on farms.  These are covered by other legislation such as provincial legislation, and animal welfare legislation. The CFIA lists all provincial regulations on its website for easy access.

1.4 Inspections: where can an inspection occur?

To ensure federal transportation regulations are respected, CFIA undertakes routine inspections at strategic locations such as at points of entry into Canada, at federally and provincially registered slaughter establishments, at auction markets and at assembly yards, etc. however CFIA can conduct an animal transport inspection at any time at any location. CFIA also conducts randomized roadside inspections and follows up on complaints or reports of possible non-compliance.

A single observation may not be sufficient on its own to confirm compliance and a more detailed inspection may be required if the inspector suspects or has reasonable grounds to suspect, that the observed condition(s) may be non-compliant with the Regulations.

1.5 About this Interpretive Guidance:  How will this document assist me in understanding the regulations?

The intent of this document is to provide descriptions, explanations and examples of how to interpret the amended HAR.  This additional information may assist the regulated party in complying with the regulations.  This document does not guarantee compliance with the HAR. It is not a legally binding document however, it may be used to interpret the intent of the HAR whenever sought. The regulated party is responsible for considering the many factors that affect animals during transportation.

The sections of this guidance document are not intended to be read in isolation. Animal welfare depends on several factors and therefore, the regulated party is encouraged to read and consider all sections.

In case of doubt on how to comply with these regulations (Part XII), the regulated party is encouraged to read this document and if additional clarity is required, to seek advice.

This guidance document is a "living" or "evergreen" document which may be periodically revised and updated based on advances in relevant science, technologies, review of implementation experiences, revisions to the Health of Animals Regulations, and feedback from regulated parties, the public, CFIA staff and trading partners. As such, stakeholders are encouraged to access the most recent version for guidance when needed.

1.6 What is not within the scope: what might I need that is not covered in this document?

This guidance document is not intended to provide comprehensive education about all aspects of animal loading, transport and unloading to a person who has no background in animal transport.

This document contains links to on-line reference documents that may provide additional or supportive information.  These are not intended to be a complete list of references.

1.7 References to other documents

Recognizing the online availability of numerous documents regarding animal welfare during transport and to avoid duplication, this guidance document does not contain information that is available elsewhere. For example, the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals (NFACC): TransportationFootnote 1 (also referred to as the "Transport Code"), and other species-specific Codes that were developed by NFACC contain relevant and valuable information on the welfare of animals prior to loading and during transport. The Codes of Practice are developed under the direction of the NFACCFootnote 2.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code Animal WelfareFootnote 3, Section 7, provides information on the transport of animals by sea, land and air in chapters 7.2-7.4.

The International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Live Animals RegulationsFootnote 4 provide information on the transport of animals by air and are available for purchase online.

Some provinces have additional legislation for animal transport.  Regulated parties are encouraged to access the regulations of provinces in which they operate.

1.8 Additional information

1.8.1 Assessment of Animal Fitness to apply to Section 7.0 (Unfit) and Section 8.0 (Compromised)

The Health of Animals Regulations require that an animal must be fit for the intended transport process before transportation begins, and must remain fit throughout. It is important to note that some animals are moved multiple times and held for prolonged periods and their fitness can deteriorate significantly with each move.  When assessing fitness, all parties involved in the transport of animals whether directly or indirectly are urged to consider the ability of the animal to tolerate the possibility of multiple loadings and unloadings.

1.8.2 Nearest Suitable Place to apply to Section 141(3)(a), 142(1)(d) and 142 (4)(b)

The Health of Animals Regulations often refers to a "nearest suitable place" where an animal can receive care, treatment or can be humanely killed. This refers to a place that is the closest to the current location of the animal(s) in question and that is accessible, equipped, willing and qualified to care for, treat, or humanely kill the compromised or unfit animal(s). The regulated party is encouraged to keep an updated list of these places along their transport route(s) in their contingency plan. See section 139(1)-(2) for Contingency Plan.

The nearest suitable place can be a veterinary hospital, a farm, a slaughter establishment, an auction market or an assembly yard, or any other suitable place provided this place is the nearest suitable place where this compromised or unfit animal can receive competent care, treatment, or be humanely killed.

It is important to note that the nearest suitable place may in some cases include auction markets or assembly yards while in other cases it may not; the difference is dependent on the point at which an animal became compromised or unfit.  In the case of unfit or compromised animals, this could only occur when the animal becomes unfit or compromised while in transit. See 7.3 Auction Markets and Assembly Yards, with respect to Unfit Animals and/or 8.3 Auction Markets and Assembly Yards, with respect to Compromised Animals.

2.0 Interpretation

This part provides descriptions of terms used in the regulation and is provided for additional clarity

2.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations Section 136 (1)-(3).

2.2 Required Outcomes

Regulated parties will have a clear understanding of the terms and language used in the regulation in order to interpret the law as it relates to the transportation of animals in Canada.

2.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

While the many of the terms in the regulations are self-explanatory, the terms below were determined to require additional information for certainty:

Commercial carrier: this refers to any carrier whether land, air, sea or rail that transports animals for financial benefit.  This can range from those who transport large numbers of animals daily to those who transport any animal for financial benefit on an infrequent basis.

Compromised: this definition and the partial list of conditions are provided to capture examples of conditions where animals can be only be transported short distances either for care or treatment or for humane killing but such transport requires the animal be provided with measures to protect it from additional suffering.  Regulated parties are encouraged to see Section 142 (1)-(6) regarding the required provisions for compromised animals.  The final item in the list of conditions in Section 136(1) compromised (m) is to capture any other condition that impairs an animal's ability to withstand transportation. However the most commonly seen conditions are provided within the regulation (Section 136 (1)(a-l)) to assist the regulated party.

Compromised animals in general are those with a condition that impairs their ability to tolerate transport.  However, with special provisions they can be transported short distances to the nearest suitable place.  It should be noted that in many cases, compromised animals can easily deteriorate and become unfit for further transport. Provisions for compromised animals include but are not limited to loading the animal last, and unloading it first, providing additional bedding, segregation, taking measures to prevent hypothermia or hyperthermia and only transporting the animal directly for local slaughter or care.  The maximum time a compromised animal can be without feed and water is 12 hours.

Those listed conditions under compromised Section 136(1) that are more frequently observed or may require further guidance are provided here with notes to assist the regulated party:

  • (a) Bloated: an animal may be bloated to varying degrees.  An animal with a degree of untreated or untreatable bloat that will cause the animal to suffer during transport is considered unfit as per 136 (1) unfit (r) and is not to be loaded. Bloat which would lead to a finding of compromised would be any degree of visible but mild bloat.  It must be closely monitored for deterioration of its condition and if the animal becomes unfit it must be transported as per Section 141(3).
  • (b) Labored breathing: An animal that has difficulty breathing would be considered compromised if the breathing is slightly irregular as long as the animal is otherwise fit for transport but it would be considered unfit for transport if it is pronounced as per section 136 (1) unfit (r).  Mild distress could quickly lead to an animal becoming unfit for further transport and collapsing due to lack of oxygen, particularly given the stressors of mixing, loading, crowding, heat, noise, movements, etc.  Regulated parties must monitor these animals closely and take steps to minimize stress.
  • (c) Acute frostbite: during extreme cold, or cold weather combined with wind (wind-chill), animals can develop frostbite.  In the acute stages, the affected tissue can be very painful and subject to tissue death and subsequent infection.  Depending on the location and extent of the affected area, the animal may be at risk of considerable suffering.  For example a small area of acute frostbite at the tip of an ear may be painful, but to one or more feet or an udder, can lead to significant pain, massive tissue loss, infection and even death.
  • (d) Blind in one or both eyes: animals that have lost vision in one or both eyes may have lost it quickly or progressively.  However even in the case of an animal that loses its vision slowly over a period of time and has become accustomed to being blind at the production site; the animal is still to be considered compromised for the purposes of transport.  While the slow progression to blindness or even the existence of blindness since birth allows for a more or less normally behaving animal on the farm, the stresses of mixing, loading, moving, crowding will cause additional stress to the blind animal.
  • (e) Not fully healed after an operation: post-surgical animals that have not fully healed are at risk of wound closure breakdown and are to be handled as compromised.
  • (f), (g) Slightly lame (imperfect locomotion) or has difficulty climbing a ramp or rising: even slight lameness where the source of the lameness might not be immediately identifiable can quickly progress to significant lameness as animals are mixed and penned, navigate ramps and chutes, loaded with and pushed by many other animals, required to balance while being transported across multiple conditions and starts and stops, may fall and be stepped on, and are unloaded and forced to once again navigate ramps, chutes and mixing at the destination.
  • (h) Heavy lactation: an animal that is in heavy lactation is at risk of engorgement and subsequent pain and suffering, and mastitis.
  • (i) Penis injury: breeding males can experience an injury to the penis during mating or by fighting.  These injuries are painful.
  • (j) Rectal or vaginal prolapse: these tissues can be slightly prolapsed and can appear more or less normal however irrespective of the size, the animal is deemed compromised. Further prolapse and deterioration of the tissue due to dehydrated, irritated and inflamed can occur as the animal strains due to discomfort and normal attempts at elimination. Major prolapses leading to animal suffering will render the animal unfit as per section 136 (1) unfit (r). In severe cases, where the prolapsed tissue is very swollen, inflamed or traumatized, or where both the rectum and the vagina are prolapsed and significantly swollen, or when inability to urinate has led to imminent rupture of the bladder, suffering may preclude any transportation and render the animal unfit for transport.  A vaginal prolapse is not to be confused with a uterine prolapse (unfit).
  • (k) Hobbled other than to treat an injury: hobbles are most often used to prevent kicking and to protect handlers and other animals.  Hobbles restrict an animal's ability to balance and navigate chutes and ramps and as such, render the animal compromised when they are used strictly for handler safety reasons.
  • (l) Wet bird: birds that are wet (moisture has reached the skin) to a degree that can impact their ability to fluff their feathers and keep warm are considered compromised.  They are at extreme risk of developing hypothermia during cold conditions if not well protected from the elements during loading and transport and lairage.  Wet birds cannot be loaded without special provisions to keep the birds warm at all points during the catching, loading, transport and unloading and can only be transported short distances as per compromised animals.  However if allowed time and suitable conditions to become dry they can be loaded and transported as per fit birds assuming no other infirmity, illness, injury or condition leads to a finding of compromise or unfit.  It is important to note, that allowing birds time to dry may impact the timing of the feed, water and rest interval therefore longer access to feed and water prior to catching may be necessary for wet birds being dried prior to a prolonged journey.  It is always desirable to keep birds from becoming wet at all times to meet planned schedules.
  • (m) Impaired capacity: the list of conditions most commonly seen rendering an animal compromised are provided in the regulatory text (section 136 – interpretation of compromised) and are clarified above.  However, it is impossible to indicate every condition that might cause suffering if the animal with such a condition were to be loaded without special provisions and transported long distances.  Therefore under section 136 - definition of compromised (m) is a general overarching description that could include all conditions that would lead to suffering if the animal were to be loaded without special provisions and longer distances, including those listed under the same definition – compromised (a) through (l).  It is hoped that listing the most commonly seen conditions will assist regulated parties.  If in doubt whether an animal is fit or compromised, the regulated party is encouraged to assume that it is compromised and treat it accordingly to preclude changes in plans while in transit.  If in doubt as to whether a compromised animal is fit to be loaded, even with the special provisions required in section 142(1)-(6), the regulated party is encouraged to consider the animal unfit and handle as per section 141 (1)-(6) and handle accordingly to preclude changes in plans while in transit.

Confine: refers to the holding of an animal in a conveyance or in a container in the case of crated animals for the purposes of (the intention to) transport.  For the purpose of this regulation, an animal is confined from the moment it is placed on the conveyance in the case of non-crated animals, and from the moment it is placed in the crate or container in the case of crated animals.  Confinement continues while the animal is held in the conveyance or container including any wait times prior to, during or after transit until the time the animal is unloaded from the conveyance in the case of non-crated animals or from the container in the case of crated animals.

Container: any contrivance used to contain an animal for the purposes of transport including a crate.

Humanely kill: animals that are found to be suffering prior to or during transport may be humanely killed. Humane killing involves trained and skilled (in humane killing) persons using generally accepted (by industry) methods and equipment which is easily accessible and well maintained.  Humane killing is done rapidly and efficiently with the least possible fear, anxiety and suffering to the animal.  It is most often preceded by humane stunning unless the killing and stunning occur concurrently.

Humanely stun: animals that are found to be suffering prior to or during transport may be humanely stunned prior to killing. It must be rendered irreversibly unconscious by a trained and skilled (in humane stunning) person using generally accepted (to industry) methods and equipment which is easily accessible and well maintained. Humane stunning is done rapidly and efficiently with the least possible fear, anxiety and suffering to the animal and once done the animal can never return to consciousness and is killed as soon as possible.

Unfit: unfit animals must not be loaded unless they are under veterinary direction and for veterinary diagnosis, care or treatment.  In such a case, a veterinarian would typically be called to the site or provide detailed instructions regarding the care of the animal prior to movement to maximize its wellbeing during transport.  To move unfit animals without veterinary direction regarding appropriate care and handling would cause pain and suffering to the animal and could lead to enforcement action.  It is important to note that animals that become unfit as per Section 136 (1) (a-h and q) only while in transit cannot be unloaded while conscious unless under veterinary direction for care.  It is necessary to follow the instructions as per Section 141 (1)-(6).  The following are examples of the most frequently observed conditions leading to a finding of unfit and a prohibition to load:

  • Non ambulatory: refers to an animal that is unable or unwilling to rise or walk unassisted.  An animal that cannot rise, remain standing, or walk unassisted cannot be loaded If it becomes non ambulatory while in transit, the transporter must take appropriate action as indicated in section 141 (3)-(5).
  • Fracture: an animal with a fracture to the pelvis, limb or any other fracture that will impact its mobility or is likely to cause severe pain when the animal is handled or transported.  If a fracture occurs and is likely to result in pain and suffering while in transit the transporter must take appropriate action as indicated in section 141 (3)-(5).
  • Lame/reluctant to walk: as opposed to slightly lame (see compromised) an animal that is reluctant to walk and exhibits halted movement due to lameness and/or can't bear weight on any leg cannot be loaded.  If an animal becomes lame or non-weight bearing or exhibits halted movements while in transit, the transporter must take appropriate action as indicated in section 141 (3)-(5).
  • Hobbled to treat an injury: hobbles can be used to prevent splaying or to restrict stride length linked to hip or pelvic issues.  If hobbles are used to treat or prevent an injury, the animal is to be considered unfit for the purposes of transport, even if the hobbles effectively prevent the animal from suffering.  Hobbles restrict an animal's ability to balance and navigate ramps, chutes and are used in this case to treat or prevent an underlying condition which renders the animal unfit.
  • Porcine stress: pigs can be easily stressed when handled and susceptibility to porcine stress syndrome (stressed hog) is variable. Any pig that is found trembling, having any form of breathing difficulty (e.g. open-mouth breathing, panting, or gasping); or any degree of patchy discoloration to the skin (e.g. blotchy skin - irregular skin blanching and erythema), refusing to move (with no other visible abnormalities) is to be considered unfit and not to be loaded or moved. If any pig develops any of the described signs while in transit, the transporter must take appropriate action as indicated in section 141 (3)-(5).
  • In shock, dying, prolapsed uterus, severe wound: These are extreme conditions where animals cannot be loaded. If uncertain regarding wound severity, it is best to obtain veterinary opinion.  If in doubt do not load.
  • Extremely thin: The difference between an animal that is thin to the degree that it is visibly noticeable but does not affect its ability to tolerate the rigors of transport and an animal that is extremely thin to the degree that it is emaciated and unfit for transport is easily determined by most persons involved in preparing and loading animals for transport.  An animal that is extremely thin to the degree that it would be unable to withstand transport is indicative of either chronic disease or profound neglect and must not be transported.  If the body condition is in doubt, it is advisable to obtain prompt veterinary care or handle as for unfit in section 141(1)(2)(4) and do not load.
  • Dehydrated: Dehydrated animals have sunken eyes (mild to severe depending on the degree) and skin that loses its ability to return to normal position if tented (gently lifted and released: return to normal position slightly to profoundly prolonged).  Animals can become dehydrated due to restricted access to water or due to a medical issue that prevents them from drinking effectively (e.g. foreign body or tumor in mouth or throat) or due to excessive fluid loss (e.g. kidney failure or diarrhea).  It is necessary to ensure that animals being assessed for fitness prior to transport be well hydrated and able to remain so for the intended duration of time without water.  High heat and humidity may lead to dehydration even in fit animals and may shorten the maximum intervals found in section 159.1(2).  If you are uncertain whether an animal is dehydrated or needs more frequent access to water than most, consult a veterinarian.  If in doubt, do not load.
  • Hypothermic or Hyperthermic: animals have a body temperature range in which they are comfortable and don't need to expend energy to maintain their temperature.  If above or below that zone they must expend energy (e.g. panting, shivering, etc.).  When they are no longer able to maintain their body temperature they begin to lose the ability for normal metabolic functions.  Animals can become hypothermic or hyperthermic due to illness or exposure to very cold or very hot extremes respectively.  If held at these extremes overly long periods they can suffer and die.  If an animal is hypothermic or hyperthermic prior to loading, the animal is considered to be unfit for loading.  If it becomes so during a transport, it is considered unfit for continued transport and must be treated as indicated in section 141(3)(4).
  • Nervous system disorder: animals with evidence of a disorder of the brain, spinal cord, may exhibit any number of signs that are suggestive of poor coordination, lack of balance, head tilt, bizarre behaviors, seizures, etc.  These animals are considered unfit for loading.  Consult a veterinarian.
  • Fever: a fever is a body temperature that exceeds normal baseline body temperature for the animal as a result of infection or inflammation.  Although small fluctuations can be attributed to the increased anxiety of handling and loading, a sustained elevation in body temperature is a concern.
  • Large hernia: animals can have large hernias (abdominal contents that are present in an out pocketing of the skin) that affect the animal's well-being.  A hernia that is of a size such that it affects the way an animal walks (e.g. hind leg of the animal touches the hernia when the animal is walking); painful to the animal when touched; is of a size that it approaches the ground when standing; that has an area of open wound, ulceration and/or infection causes an animal to be considered unfit for transport.  These animals cannot be loaded.  Hernias can worsen when animals are pushed and pressed against other animals or are otherwise subjected to stresses.
  • Last 10% of gestation or has given birth within the preceding 48 hours:  The timing of the breeding and the calculation of the last 10% against the average time of gestation for the species will provide this information in most cases.  However in cases where exact time of breeding is unknown or an animal shows evidence of impending birth, it is necessary to be aware of the signs of late stage gestation for the species in question. Persons involved in the transport of animals in the last 10% of gestation, whether directly or indirectly, may be subject to enforcement action.
  • Any other condition: Under section 136 definition of unfit (r) is a general overarching description that could include any condition that would lead to suffering if the animal were to be loaded, including those listed under the same definition – unfit (a) through (q).  If in doubt whether an animal is compromised, unfit, or can be unloaded without suffering the regulated party is encouraged to assume that it is unfit and unable to be unloaded while conscious.

Section 136(2): loading and unloading

Loading: in the case of non-crated animals, begins when the first animal is handled with the intent of placing it in a conveyance for the purposes of transport, or in the case of crated animals with the intent of placing it into a container for the purposes of transport.

Loading ends when the last animal to be transported in the conveyance is placed on the conveyance or in the case of animals transported in containers when the last container is placed on the conveyance.

Unloading: in the case of non-crated animals, begins when the first animal is handled with the intent of removing it from the conveyance and ends when the last animal is no longer on the conveyance or any unloading apparatus (e.g. ramp).  In the case of crated animals, unloading begins when the container is handled to be removed from the conveyance and ends when the last animal is removed from the container.

Note: for those remaining in crates for the purposes of gas stunning, unloading ends when the last crate from the load enters the gas stunner.

Additional definitions: For further definitions, the reader is encouraged to access the Health of Animals Act.

3.0 Knowledge and Skills

3.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations: Section 137

3.2 Required Outcomes

All persons involved in the transport of animals either directly or indirectly have the necessary knowledge and skills to competently conduct required tasks as they relate to animal transport to prevent animal suffering, injury or death during all phases of transport from handling for loading through transport and to final unloading.

3.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

The transport of animals is accomplished with the collaboration of many persons.  Those persons involved in the direct handling of animals must have intimate knowledge of the normal and abnormal behavior of the species that they are responsible for handling to ensure the well-being of the animals in their care and for their own personal safety.  However, in addition those persons indirectly involved in animal transport such as producers, dispatchers, processors and emergency personnel should also be aware of basic animal based parameters in order to consider animal needs when planning or responding to animal transport issues.

4.0 Training

4.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations: Section 138 (1)-(3)

4.2 Required Outcomes

Every commercial carrier shall train its employees and agents who are involved directly or indirectly in the loading, transporting or unloading to ensure that they are trained to carry out their duties in compliance to transport animals in a manner that prevents injury, suffering or death.

4.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Each person involved in and responsible for operating a conveyance with live animals on board must be trained and know how loading, protecting, preparing, monitoring and driving affect animals during transport and has the appropriate skills to drive the conveyance with an animal load in a way to minimize the negative effects on the animals. Training must include knowledge of:

  • The transported animal's needs;
  • normal and abnormal behavior;
  • signs of discomfort, stress or suffering;
  • humane handling (movement and restraint) and transport of animals (loading densities, equipment);
  • the carrier's contingency plan; and
  • the risks associated with the transportation of animals to competently carry out specific tasks to cope with the risks should they occur.

There are a number of ways to obtain required skills and knowledge, including formalized training and mentorship.

5.0 Contingency Plans

5.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations: Section 139 (1)-(2)

5.2 Required Outcomes

Each person involved directly or indirectly in and responsible for the transportation of animals, is required to have contingency plans for unforeseen transport events.

5.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

A contingency plan is a pre-transport plan of action that anyone transporting animals must have.  It involves an alternate course of action to ensure the safety and welfare of the animal(s).  Many unanticipated events can occur when moving animals; both within and external to the conveyance.  Examples of such situations that can be reasonably foreseen include but are not limited to:

  • encountering a major road detour or closure,
  • an accident,
  • unexpected construction causing significant delays,
  • a vehicle breakdown,
  • inclement weather,
  • a sudden illness of the driver,
  • a long waiting time at the unloading station, or
  • a labour disruption.

A contingency plan may be written or verbal – but may be requested to be provided during an inspection. It does not have to be elaborate; however some parties may prefer to have a prepared list.  It may contain details such as the following list:

  • the dispatcher telephone number,
  • the contact information of a close-by garage at various points along the route that is open and available to quickly repair a vehicle that broke down while in transit,
  • an alternate route to the destination to avoid long stops if an accident results in road closure for an extended period of time,
  • descriptions on how to handle, unload, reload, transfer the animals from one conveyance to another in an emergency.
  • measures to be taken to protect animals from sudden and/or extreme weather changes en route, and to keep animals comfortable and ventilated during prolonged unloading delays at destination, including a planned route to keep the vehicle moving, shaded areas to park, access to water for sprinkling animals to keep them cool, etc.,
  • the name and contact information of:
    • the commercial carrier company (several phone numbers, mobile device numbers, email addresses, physical address),
    • an alternate fully trained and capable driver,
    • the owner/operator at the origin and destination,
    • several licensed veterinarians along the planned route,
    • the local animal authorities,
    • provincial authorities,
    • CFIA district office,
    • SPCAs,
    • towing company,
    • livestock sector associations,
    • the nearest suitable places along the way to diagnose, treat or humanely kill animals that become compromised or unfit during transport,
    • alternate destinations in case the intended destination cannot receive the animals.

6.0 Assessment of Risk Factors Related to Transportation

6.1  Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations Section 140

6.2  Required Outcomes

Every person involved in the transport of animals directly or indirectly have assessed the possible risk factors that may cause animal injury, suffering or death during the transport of animals.

6.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Risk factors include those that are inherent to the animals in the load, the driver, the conveyance, the weather, and the route. There are many events that can negatively impact an animal(s) being transported.  This can begin with poor preparation or handling, or poor selection of animals prior to loading.  Animals that are even slightly compromised or poorly prepared by being inadequately fed, watered and rested can rapidly deteriorate during a long journey.

Those involved in the transport of animals must consider several risk factors to protect animals from injury, suffering or death during transport such as:

  • current condition of the animal (e.g. pre-existing disease, injury, age, gestational status, post-surgery, behavioural concerns (e.g. animal rarely handled), recently weaned or separated from herd mates, etc.
  • an animal's condition deteriorating during transport requiring to be transported to the nearest suitable place, etc.
  • loading density adequate for the animals in the load
  • compatibility of animals
  • animal handling and restraint methods (do you have the proper equipment to handle animals and prevent escape
  • duration of the transport (how long will animals remain in the conveyance, how long will they be without access to feed, water and rest thinking of your planned breaks)
  • delays during transport or at destination (mechanical breakdown en route or at the slaughter plant where animals will need to remain on conveyance longer than planned)
  • weather and road conditions (severe weather, rain, humidity, snow, sharp inclines, declines etc.)
  • condition of the conveyance and weather protection devices (is it at risk of mechanical failure during the journey, is the servicing up to date, are the tires and brakes in good condition, is it in good repair)
  • Does the driver have the skills required for the intended journey?
  • Is the driver prepared for the intended journey and rested to minimize confinement time for the animals?
  • Are there road closures along the route?

7.0 Transport of Unfit Animals

7.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations Section 141 (1)-(6)

7.2 Required Outcomes

Animals that are identified as unfit prior to loading as per any of the descriptors in Section 136 (1) are not loaded for transport except under the advice of a veterinarian for diagnosis, care or treatment and only if adequate measures are taken to prevent any additional suffering.

Animals that become unfit during transport, are promptly provided with measures or actions required to minimize their further suffering and to prevent further injury or unintended death. These actions can be either immediate humane killing, or promptly taking measures to improve the comfort and reduce the suffering of the animal while it is taken to the nearest place where it can be humanely stunned/killed or, under the advice of a veterinarian only, where it can be cared for by the veterinarian. An animal that becomes unfit during transport as per 136 (1) unfit (a-h and q) are never unloaded while conscious unless they are under veterinary care and unloaded for diagnosis, care or treatment.

7.3 Guidance to regulated parties

An animal that is unfit prior to loading (Section 141 (1)): all parties directly (e.g. handlers, transporters) or indirectly (e.g. producers, processors) involved in the process are to take measures to ensure that animals are assessed for fitness prior to transport.  It will avert animal suffering, possible findings of non-compliance, economic losses and unplanned delays.  Any animal that is deemed unfit as per the descriptors of unfit in 136(1) are not to be loaded except in the specific case identified in the next paragraph below. This must be a priority for all persons involved in any aspect of animal transport.  All persons determined to be involved directly or indirectly in the decision and the actions related to loading of an unfit animal may be considered to be in non-compliance with the Regulation.

An animal that is loaded and unloaded for diagnosis, care or treatment under the advice of a veterinarian (Section 141 (2) and (5)):  For example, a producer may desire care and treatment for an unfit animal or wish to have a diagnosis performed on the animal in order to determine cause of illness.  In such a case, a veterinarian is to be engaged.  It is important that the unfit animal is loaded only when it can be loaded and transported as per the veterinarian's instruction and with proper provisions to maximize its well-being.  These may include provisions such as deep bedding, splints, hydration, specialized loading and unloading and additional climate control for the conditions.  Drivers must be mindful that they are transporting an unfit animal and drive accordingly only for short distances, and directly to the destination.  Unfit animals, if transported under veterinary advice, must be segregated from all other animals.  See section 149 –Segregation.

An animal that becomes unfit during transport (Section 141 (3)): all parties directly or indirectly involved in the continued transport of an animal that was loaded as fit or compromised with provisions but becomes unfit while in transit are to work promptly to end the suffering of that animal.  This can be because an animal was negatively impacted by transport stresses or because an incident occurred within the conveyance to cause harm to the animal.  The transporter will be required to make adjustments to the travel itinerary to accommodate the unfit animal.  The regulated party is strongly encouraged to have accurate, up-to-date, readily available contact information for all suitable places along the route in their contingency plan (see Health of Animals Regulations section 139) and the driver(s) must be able to contact a veterinarian before and during transportation for advice and must follow that advice. The regulated party, or parties, have three options after quickly providing measures to make the animal as comfortable as possible:

  1. Contact a veterinarian to request advice on whether the animal can continue to be transported a short distance for care and treatment and what further measures can be taken to see to the animal's well-being.
  2. Transport it to the nearest place where it can be humanely stunned/killed.  Once humanely stunned – as per the definition in 136 (1), it is unable to feel pain and can be unloaded for humane killing.  Alternatively it can be humanely killed while on the conveyance in which it was found to have become unfit. The nearest place in this instance is not limited to being on the advice of a veterinarian, since the intention is to end the animal's suffering as quickly as possible by humanely killing it, irrespective of the location.
  3. Humanely kill the animal immediately where it lies using generally approved methods and well maintained equipment

For example, in the case of an animal that becomes non-ambulatory during transit; the remainder of the journey is 8 hours to a federal plant will require a schedule adjustment to allow for either prompt humane killing of the animal or to find the nearest suitable place to have the animal humanely killed or in some cases cared for under the advice of a veterinarian, etc.  Provisions to minimize the animal's suffering while it remains on the conveyance on route to the nearest suitable place may include segregation of the animal to protect it, additional bedding, water, to call the processor.

Nearest Suitable Place: can be a veterinary hospital, a farm, a slaughter establishment, an auction market or an assembly yard, or any other suitable place provided this place is the nearest suitable place where the unfit animal can receive veterinary care, or treatment, or be humanely stunned/killed.  An animal that becomes unfit as per section 136 (1) (a-h) and (q) cannot be unloaded while conscious unless for care and treatment and only under a veterinarian's direction to provide the care and treatment.

Auction Markets and Assembly Yards, with Respect to an Animal that Becomes Unfit During Transport:

An animal that becomes unfit during transport must be transported directly to the nearest suitable place to avoid further suffering. In dire circumstances, this can include an auction market or assembly yard only for the purpose of care/treatment/humane killing. These animals cannot however be unloaded while conscious at these venues unless under veterinary supervision.

An animal that was considered to be unfit before loading is not to be loaded except for transport to a veterinarian for care and treatment and only under that veterinarian's instruction, and therefore must never present to an auction market or assembly yard.

Exceptions allowing the unloading of an unfit animal (Section 141(5):

  1. An animal that is being transported for diagnosis, care or treatment on the advice of a veterinarian may be unloaded while conscious.
  2. An animal that may be easily and manually lifted out of the container may be unloaded from the container while conscious to be humanely killed.
  3. An animal that is unfit as per Section 136 (1) unfit (i-p).
  4. An animal that has been humanely stunned on the conveyance.

8.0 Transport of Compromised Animals

8.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations 142 (1)-(6)

8.2 Required Outcomes

Every animal that is identified as compromised prior to loading as per any part of the descriptors in Section 136(1) are loaded and transported with necessary measures to minimize their suffering (i.e. segregated, loaded last and unloaded first and transported directly to the nearest place, other than an auction market or assembly yard to receive care or treatment or to be humanely killed).

Animals that become compromised during transport are promptly provided with measures to minimize their suffering, injury or death and they are transported directly to the nearest place to receive care or treatment or to be humanely killed. If the nearest place to care for an animal that becomes compromised during transport is an auction market or assembly yard, the animal is not to be marketed or assembled for further transport.

Animals that have a condition rendering them both compromised and unfit, as per 136 (1) will be considered unfit. If in doubt whether an animal is compromised, unfit, the regulated party is encouraged to assume that it is unfit and treated accordingly.

8.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

An animal that is compromised prior to loading (Section 142(1) (3): all parties involved directly or indirectly in and responsible for the transportation of animals, must ensure that each animal is assessed prior to loading to determine whether each animal is fit for transport. It will avert animal suffering, possible findings of non-compliance, economic losses and unplanned delays.  Compromised animals may be transported directly to an appropriate place (e.g. veterinary hospital or slaughter facility) that has the required facilities, equipment and materials to care, treat or humanely kill the animal.

Any animal that is deemed compromised prior to loading as per 136(1) may be transported however require that certain measures be taken to minimize additional suffering such that:

  • the animal is segregated from other animals (one familiar animal is permitted if it is not likely to cause injury to the compromised animal) and is loaded last and unloaded first
  • the animal is moved the shortest distance possible and is cared for or humanely killed in a manner that does not add to its suffering
  • the animal is moved directly to its final destination, with no unloading and re-loading en route
  • the animal is not taken to an auction market or assembly yard
  • the animal is provided with access to feed, water and rest in intervals of no more than 12 hours 159.1 (2)(a)

Additional measures such as protection from inclement weather, a reduction in loading density, provision of water may also minimize the likeliness of the animal further suffering.  It is easier to plan how to deal with a compromised animal before loading than to have to adjust the transport plans if an animal becomes compromised while in transit.

Because transport is extremely stressful to animals, animals that are compromised prior to loading can be expected to deteriorate rapidly and may become unfit as per the definition of unfit in 136(1). For example, an animal that is mildly lame prior to loading can become extremely lame or even non-ambulatory after negotiating ramps during loading, working to maintain its space and balance on the conveyance, and being exposed to the unfamiliar stresses of transport such as a feed, water and rest restrictions, confined space, large numbers of unfamiliar animals, noises, movements and to protect itself from injury.

An animal that is compromised prior to loading must not be transported to an auction market or assembly yard.  The reason for this prohibition is to protect animals from suffering by repeated loading, unloading and by exposing them to the stress of being in a new environment. In addition, this prohibition protects auction markets and assembly yards from becoming a repository of sick and injured animals.

An animal that becomes compromised during transport (Section 142(4): In the case of an animal that appears to be fit prior to loading but become compromised during the journey; the transporter will be required to make adjustments to accommodate the compromised animal.  For example, a planned journey to a slaughter plant may require a schedule adjustment to allow for segregation of the animal to protect it, to add bedding, to provide water. The regulated party is strongly encouraged to have accurate, up-to-date, readily available contact information for all suitable places along the route in their contingency plan (see Health of Animals Regulations section 139).

It is extremely important to be aware of the condition of the animals in the load and frequent assessments of the animal in the load are imperative; ideally loads should be verified every 3-6 hours. Regulated parties found to be transporting animals that are compromised without having provided suitable measures minimize the risk of injury, suffering or death will be considered to be in non-compliance.

Nearest Suitable Place: can be a veterinary hospital, a farm, a slaughter establishment, an auction market or an assembly yard, or any other suitable place provided this place is the nearest suitable place where this compromised animal can receive care, treatment, or be humanely killed.  In cases where the nearest suitable place cannot be reached within 12 hours from last access to feed and water and rest, the compromised animal must be humanely killed.

If the nearest place is an auction market or assembly yard that the animal is not to be moved through any standard marketing processes such as auction sale or assembled for further transport.

Auction Markets and Assembly Yards with Respect to an Animal that Becomes Compromised during Transport:

An animal that becomes compromised during transport must be transported directly to the nearest suitable place to avoid further suffering. In dire circumstances, this can include an auction market or assembly yard only for the purpose of care, treatment or humane killing.

Multiple Compromised Animals: If more than one compromised animal is being transported, each is to be handled in a manner that allows it to be transported without additional suffering.  Each needs to be protected and segregated from other animals (except one familiar animal) and they should be loaded last and unloaded first.

Compromised Poultry:

All outcomes listed above apply to compromised poultry with the following modifications:

  • Compromised poultry may be transported without segregation.
  • Compromised poultry can be loaded and unloaded in any order.

9.0 Transport of Livestock, Camelids or Cervids of Eight Days of Age or Less

9.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations 142.1 (1)-(2)

9.2 Required Outcomes

Very young livestock, camelids or cervids of eight days or less are transported in a manner that provides accommodation for their fragility and protects them from injury, suffering or death and are not without feed, water and rest longer than 12 hours.

9.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Very young animals of 8 days of age or less require special provisions and handling as they are fragile and can quickly become otherwise compromised, unfit or die due to transport related exposures. In cases where this occurs, refer to the regulatory requirements for compromised 142 (1)-(6) or unfit 141 (1)-(6).  These animals must be loaded last and unloaded first (when transported in a mixed load), segregated from animals other than its dam or others of the same age and be provided with access to feed, water and rest at intervals not exceeding 12 hours.

Young animals may be assembled from multiple locations prior to arriving at the final destination.  In this case, the animals already on board must remain on the conveyance when animals are subsequently loaded (i.e. no loading and unloading at various times prior to reaching the final destination). Accordingly, the interval without feed, water and rest must be calculated from the time at which the first animal loaded no longer had access to feed and water.

10.0 Transport of Lactating Dairy Animals

10.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations 143 (1)-(3)

10.2 Required Outcomes

Every dairy animal in heavy lactation is transported as per compromised animals section 142 (1) – (6) and in addition are not transported unless the animal is fully milked in intervals not exceeding 12 hours from the previous full milking or is transported with its suckling offspring.

10.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

While the section refers to dairy animals in heavy lactation as compromised because they are at the greatest risk of suffering from engorgement and mastitis, it should be noted that any lactating animal that is not milked at customary intervals can suffer equally and can become compromised or unfit as per the definitions in 136(1).  Regulated parties are urged to ensure that all lactating animals at any stage are milked as required to maximize animal welfare and to avert findings of non-compliance. An animal in heavy lactation is considered compromised, and as such, requires special provisions during transportation to prevent the animal's suffering as caused by its engorged udder.

A dairy animal in heavy lactation needs to be milked at least once every 12 hours, or more frequently in some cases as needed to prevent suffering. Animals in heavy lactation can quickly become unfit, if not milked at intervals of 12 hours or less and are therefore at particular risk of suffering when being transported.

Persons involved directly or indirectly in the transport of lactating animals are to ensure that the date and time of the last milking as per Section 159.4(1)(g) of each dairy animal in heavy lactation that is to be transported is documented.  This information is to be determined and clearly communicated in a timely fashion among all persons who are involved in the handling, loading, transporting and unloading of this animal in order to accurately plan the animal's transport and milking intervals.

Alternatively, a dairy animal in heavy lactation can be transported together with its suckling offspring on the same conveyance without segregation in order to allow the emptying of this dairy animal's udder by suckling.

11.0 Animal Handling

11.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations 144 (1)-(3), 145 (1)–(2)

11.2 Required Outcomes

Every animal is handled during loading, transport and unloading in a manner that does not result in suffering, injury or death.

11.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Persons involved directly or indirectly in and responsible for the transportation of animals, are required to ensure that each animal handled for the purposes of transport is done so in as humane a manner possible and as such, in a manner that minimizes harm.  Skilled, calm, patient, competent and humane handling of the animals reduces the amount of stress animals experience during loading, transport and unloading, which meets the needs of the animals and maintains better health and welfare.

Handling for the purposes of transport begins when animals are first assembled for loading and ends when unloading is completed. Handling throughout all phases of transport is to occur in a humane manner without causing or without being likely to cause any injury, suffering or death.

It is not acceptable to:

  • Beat an animal at any time, use any driving device (e.g. prod, goad, whip, etc.) in a way that causes or is likely to cause harm to an animal.
  • Force an animal to move along a path that is blocked or to lift the animal by its skin, wool or tail
  • Force a non-ambulatory animal to move; see section 141(1) Transport of Unfit Animals.

Devices and Prods: Certain devices can cause suffering if used inappropriately.  For example, suffering is likely if they are used repetitively or repeatedly on the same animal, or if they are used to whip, beat or poke at animals or violently waved in a manner that causes fear or panic.

Electric Prods (Section 144 (1)(d)): No electric prod may be applied to any sensitive area or on any animal less than 3 months old. It is never acceptable to use an electric prod to any horse, goat or sheep.

An electric prod may be used only when absolutely necessary, sparingly, to the hindquarters of pigs and large ruminants, that are ambulatory and capable of moving unassisted and without pain. They are only to be used if the animal has room to move forward (e.g. the way is clear, no animal or other impasses in front of them and only if permitted by Regulated Party Standard Operating Procedures. Prods should be kept out of the hands of handlers and only be used as a last resort to move animals in a particular direction and are not to be used to inflict pain as a means to manage behavior.  Repetitive prodding of the same animal is not acceptable under any circumstances.

Handling of Containers: The regulated party is to handle each container, including a cargo container, in a manner that does not cause or is not likely to cause any injury, suffering or death to the animal contained within it (i.e. does not throw, drop or kick the container, etc.).

Handling of conveyances: Drivers of live animals are encouraged to (including but not limited to):

  • start, drive, and stop the vehicle smoothly to prevent animals from being thrown off their feet,
  • practice defensive driving (e.g. leave enough space between vehicles to be able to stop in an unexpected emergency),
  • negotiate turns in the smoothest possible manner,
  • check each load immediately before departure to ensure that the animals have been properly loaded in the containers,
  • check each load frequently during the journey and make appropriate adjustments within the conveyance to ensure animal welfare (e.g. check for signs of general discomfort of the animals, such as overheating),
  • avoid abrupt movements to avoid animals losing balance, pushing against each other, and falling.

Handling of animals:  Loading and unloading as per Section (145(1)(2))

The regulated party is required to see to the appropriate construction, use and maintenance of all conveyances, and all containers, ramps, stairs, gangways, chutes, boxes or other apparatus used for loading and unloading animals in a way that does not cause, or is unlikely to cause any injury, suffering or death to the animal during loading and unloading.

Animals must not be rushed during loading or unloading: Humane handling allows time for the animals to move to or from the holding area through the chutes and ramps into or out of the conveyance, and by using species appropriate aids to guide but not harm or frighten the animals (e.g. paddles, rattles, flags, stick with a plastic bag on one end, waving of a hat).

When unloading, the appropriate use of gates in alleyways can create shorter sections through which animals can move and prevents animals from turning around and moving in the wrong direction and from bolting ahead to rejoin previously unloaded animals.

Different species are able to navigate some ramp heights while others are more restricted due to their anatomy.  The regulated party needs to refer to the regulations to determine the appropriate slope for ramps, gangway, or chutes which must not exceed be the following for each of the species listed:

  • 35° in the case of a cervid, goat or sheep,
  • 30° in the case of a bovine or horse, and
  • 25° in the case of a pig.

12.0 Weather Protection and Ventilation

12.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations 146

12.2 Required Outcomes

Every animal is transported in a manner that does not expose it to adverse weather or environmental conditions that can lead to suffering, injury or death of the transported animals and every animal is provided with adequate ventilation during transportation.

12.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Each person involved directly or indirectly in and responsible for the transportation of animals, is required to ensure the protection of those animals at all times from the effects of the weather during loading, transport and unloading.  The regulated party must ensure the animal has adequate ventilation to maintain its normal body temperature at all times during the transport.

Weather Conditions: In cases where adverse weather conditions exist (e.g. excessively wet, cold, hot, or humid) the regulated party is to have a contingency plan in place to deal with such situations as per Section 139).

An animal may be exposed in its normal environment (e.g. in a barn, on pasture) to a variety of weather conditions (e.g. hot or very cold temperatures) that may cause discomfort and stress.  While this can be potentially stressful, the animal is able to adjust gradually and acclimatize if it is given sufficient time to adapt. However, when an animal is placed into a conveyance where the stresses of handling, noise, unfamiliar animals and handlers, and environments are added the animal is at risk of suffering.

The combination of distance and duration of transport with continuous or intermittent exposure to inclement weather and/or different climatic zones (such as high mountain passes, hot interior valleys, and wet coastal areas) could also cause suffering, injury or death and must be considered a risk prior to transport (see Section 140).

An animal that is exposed to the effects of the weather can suffer for many reasons including but not limited to: heat exhaustion, frostbite, profound hypothermia, and death.  Animals need to be protected from weather extremes both during the heat of summer and frigid temperatures of winter, or from dangerous combinations of either heat and humidity, or cold temperatures, wet conditions and/or high wind-chill.

Ventilation: An animal that is not provided with adequate ventilation can suffer and die from asphyxiation even during cold weather.  Overheating and asphyxiation is a significant risk in the heat of summer.  This is particularly the case when the environmental humidity is high and the temperature feels much greater due to the compounding effects of heat and humidity creating a humidex reading that is much higher than the actual temperature.  Adequate ventilation is critical when the humidex is high.

The proper balance of protection and ventilation is needed and must be determined prior to departure. Protective materials must be adjusted accordingly throughout the transit as weather conditions change, in order to ensure animals are able to maintain adequate body temperature and the ability to be provided with adequate ventilation to prevent breathing difficulties and asphyxiation.

Air flow: In general, air flows from the rear of the trailer towards the front of the trailer and exits through the side of the trailer as the conveyance moves forward. Due to this pattern of air flow, the area with the least air circulation and, therefore, with the hottest temperature on a moving trailer, is the front section just behind the tractor/truck above the front trailer axle wheels. The area with the greatest exposure to wind chill, rain, freezing rain, etc., in cold weather on a moving trailer includes the rear and the sides of the trailer. Due to the wind chill effect on a moving truck, animals may suffer from cold and frostbite even during temperatures above freezing.

During the winter, animals close to the sides on poorly equipped trailers can freeze, while animals in the middle portion can die from heat exposure. This more frequently occurs in poultry transport.

The regulated party is responsible for knowing and understanding species specific thermo-neutral zones (temperatures within which they are able to regulate their body temperatures), animal behavior, and signs of suffering of the transported animals to act appropriately when deviations are noticed.

On a stationary trailer, there is lack of air flow through the conveyance. The regulated party must consider this when the vehicle stops or slows down especially during hot days due to traffic or other reasons. Parking animal transport vehicles particularly in hot weather can result in excessive heat and CO2 buildup inside the vehicle which may cause animals to suffer and die of hyperthermia (extreme heat) or suffocation. Decreased ventilation can lead to condensation within the conveyance if the temperature gradient inside and outside of the conveyance is significant and can lead to wet animals.  When transport is resumed or when the animals are otherwise exposed to the cold, the wet animals can become hypothermic leading to suffering and even death.

When to reschedule a transport due to unacceptable weather: The regulated party is responsible for verifying weather conditions for the planned route and duration of transport prior to loading, for monitoring the weather while in transit, and for adjusting the air flow and ventilation accordingly during the trip to prevent animal suffering from exposure to the negative effects of adverse weather conditions or inadequate ventilation. In extreme weather, the regulated party may need to consider rescheduling the transport during more favorable environmental conditions.

13.0 Overcrowding and Space Requirements

Health of Animals Regulations 147 (1)–(3), 148 (1)-(2)

13.2 Required Outcomes

Every animal is transported in a container or conveyance that provides adequate headroom to permit a full range of normal head movement and sufficient floor space for the animal to maintain its preferred position and to adjust its position in order to protect it from being harmed by other animals and from exposure to excessive heat or cold or other potential harms.

Every animal transported by air, floor space requirements are as per the International Air Transport Association Live Animal Regulations are followed.

Every horse transported by land is loaded and transported in a conveyance with only one deck.

13.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Persons involved directly or indirectly in and responsible for the transportation of animals, are required to ensure that animals are able to maintain or adjust their body positions at all times during the entire journey in order to protect them from injury, suffering or death.

Overcrowding:

Insufficient space during transport can negatively affect animal well-being. Overcrowding predisposes the animal to losing its balance, involuntarily falling and not being able to get up resulting in the animal being trapped underfoot and trampled, causing injury and possibly death. When an animal falls down it may destabilize the others in the group who are then also at risk of falling and injuring themselves.

Additionally, overcrowding may prevent the cooling of the animal's body by restricting air circulation resulting in heat stress and even death, may squeeze animals against the wall of the conveyance that may result in injury to the animal or exposure to extremes of heat or cold, and may limit the animals' ability to reposition themselves in the load during the transportation.  Overcrowding may directly cause discomfort due to lateral pressure on the animal by the tightly surrounding animals.

Loading densities:

Recommended loading densities and charts are provided in the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: TransportationFootnote 5 for several species (Appendix 2 – Density Charts), and are mentioned in some of the species specific Codes of Practice and in the case of air transport, in the IATA Live Animals Regulations.

The effect of animal size, physical alterations, condition and health status on loading densities:

Physical features of animals, such as horns or wool, can also affect loading densities. In these cases, the recommended loading densities may need to be adjusted to account for the space requirements of animals with horns or wool.  Additionally, taller, long and thin animals require more space per animal for a given weight than shorter heavily conditioned animals of the same species.

Note - regarding compromised animals: Loading densities provided in the Transport Code apply to fit, healthy animals in good condition. Unfit animals must not be loaded and compromised animals may require more space.

The effect of temperature on loading densities:

During hot and cold weather, loading densities need to be reduced, i.e. more space should be provided. In hot, humid weather, more space is needed as animals require more ventilation during transport to prevent dangerous levels of heat buildup that may cause suffering, heat stroke and death. In cold weather, animals need more space to be able to move away from cold areas to prevent suffering due to exposure to cold air, frostbite or freezing. Note that heat and condensation buildup can also be a problem during the winter when the trailers are boarded or tarped to protect the animals from the cold. The regulated party is responsible for ensuring proper ventilation during the whole transportation in all weather conditions.

Headroom:

In order to ensure animal welfare during transport, each animal must have sufficient space above its head – including all parts of its head such as ears, horns, antlers – when standing with the head elevated, for a full range of head movement without coming into contact with the container, conveyance roof or cover.  In addition, all animals should have sufficient room to stand or lie down during transport without being on top of each other. These conditions allow for adequate ventilation, space requirements and loading density and provide a reasonable level of comfort to the animals in transit.

Exception for poultry; given that poultry squat during transport they are not required to have sufficient room to stand while in the container, however, they must have sufficient headroom to be able to squat.

14.0 Segregation

14.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations 149

14.2 Required Outcomes

Incompatible animals will be segregated to prevent suffering, injury or death.

14.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Segregation is to be interpreted as the physical separation of incompatible animals from each other to minimize the potential for injury, suffering or death of an animal due to aggression, trauma, social dominance, or other forms of physical or psychological harm between incompatible animals.

An animal is deemed incompatible with another if, by reason of its nature, species, temperament, gender, weight or age, it is likely to cause injury, suffering or death to the other animal. The animals' general behavior patterns can usually be predicted based on factors such as condition, species, sex, age, breed, class, reproductive status, and the presence of young animals.

Handlers are required to be aware of the potential incompatibility between animals and if in doubt, should segregate them.

Examples of animals that should be segregated include:

  • Mature intact males of the same species
  • Predator and prey species
  • Dominant and submissive animals
  • Animals from different sources
  • Dams with young from other animals
  • Different species
  • Animals of significantly different size and weight
  • Compromised animals from fit animals

15.0 Conveyances and Containers

15.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations 150 (1)-(3) and 151 (1)–(2)

15.2 Required Outcomes

Conveyances and containers used to transport animals are designed, manufactured, maintained and used for the purpose of animal transport in a manner that does not cause suffering, injury or death to the animals being transported within them.

15.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Every person directly or indirectly involved in the transport of animals must ensure that animals are transported in containers and conveyances that are suitable for the species being transported, are clean, provide secure footing and protection from physical harm (e.g. not likely to collapse, does not contain sharp objects, insecure fittings), provide protection from adverse weather conditions, allow for feeding and water on board (if that is the manner in which the regulated party chooses to meet the feed, water and rest requirements of sections 159, 159.1 and 159.2) etc.  Unsafe, poorly constructed, inadequate containers and conveyances can expose the animals to injury, suffering or death.

In the case of animals transported by air, they must be transported in a container that meets the species specific requirements as indicated in the latest edition of the Live Animals Regulations (LAR) by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In assessing the suitability of a conveyance or container, please consider the following questions; can, or is, the conveyance/container (list is not complete but is provided as examples):

  • Considered to be generally acceptable for this species?
  • Provide the ability to load, transport and unload safely and without causing suffering, injury or death to any animal in the load?
  • Protect the animal from physical injury?
  • Be secured to the conveyance to prevent excessive movement of the container due to sudden movements of the conveyance?
  • Provide adequate segregation if needed?
  • Protect the animal from physical injury due to the structure, maintenance, or any of the fittings or objects contained within the conveyance?
  • Ensure that the animal can't escape?
  • Prevent the escape of urine and manure (except in the case of small crated animals)?
  • Able to provide secure footing at all times?
  • Provide headroom as per 148 (1) (a) and sufficient room to allow the animal to attain its preferred position and protect itself from being trampled by other animals as per 147 (2) (a)?
  • Be cleaned and disinfected (where applicable) prior to and after each use?
  • Hold sufficient bedding to keep the animal clean and dry?
  • Provide for feeding and watering on board according to the feed, water and rest requirements in this Part, if that is the selected method of compliance with sections 159, 159.1, and 159.2?
  • Ensure that the animal will be protected from toxic fumes, poor ventilation, and weather extremes?
  • Provide either visual access or written indication as to the presence of a live animal and the upright position?

Important Note: Containers that have been used in past decades may no longer be considered acceptable for transporting animals.  It may be necessary to review some long held practices.  For example, it is no longer acceptable to transport birds and smaller animals in bags of any type.  Bags do not provide the necessary requirements found in the Regulation.  The regulated party is encouraged to review the requirements listed in the Health of Animals Regulations 150 (1)-(3) and 151 (1)-(2) to determine if a container is acceptable.

16.0 Vessels

16.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations: Sections 152 – 158, 159.2(3)-(4)

16.2 Required Outcomes

Animals transported by sea carrier are transported in accordance with all requirements of Part XII in addition to the unique requirements for the transportation of animals by sea. Every sea carrier transporting livestock or poultry by sea does so in a manner that does not lead to animal injury, suffering or death.

16.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Sea carriers are considered to be within the scope of commercial carriers, and as such are subject to many of the same general requirements found in Part XII.  However, due to the unique nature of sea travel, for example: prolonged journeys, specific hazards and limited access to standard goods and services etc.; Part XII contains sections that reflect such unique circumstances. The requirements may in some situations differ from those of land transport and in some cases may be additive to it.

In order to maximize animal welfare for those transported by sea, all persons involved directly or indirectly in and responsible for the transportation of animals by sea are required to ensure that animals are adequately prepared for the journey and cared for during a sea voyage by ensuring the sea carrier has:

  • environmental controls and/or protection to ensure appropriate temperature and humidity to ensure the animal's wellbeing during the entire transportation,
  • sufficient air volume and quality at all times during the transportation through adequate ventilation
  • facilities for feeding, watering and tending to animals such that every animals can be fed, watered and cared for adequately,
  • sufficient amount of feed and water for the animal(s) for the intended journey plus an additional 25% at a minimum (one extra day for every 4 days of journey) as per 159.2 (3) and (4),
  • adequate storage for feed to maintain quality and safe water,
  • sufficient lighting on the vessel to permit attendants to feed, water and care for the animals on board
  • sufficient space in the pens for the animals to rest comfortably (all lie down at the same time without being on top of one another)
  • an enclosed area or a pen on the vessel that can be used to accommodate an animal that becomes ill, injured, compromised, or sick to provide care,
  • portable lighting in order to permit close examination of an animal as needed, 
  • emergency lighting that is sufficient to permit the feeding, watering and care of animals in case the primary lighting system fails, and
  • protection from mechanical equipment area (e.g. engine or boiler) so as to prevent injury, suffering, or death of the animal from heat, vibration or excessive noise.

Prolonged Transport: Transportation by sea may last several weeks, during which there is no opportunity to unload the animals, or to access extra assistance, feed, water, or medical equipment or supplies. Extra precautions and careful planning are required to be prepared to face challenges during the transport. Small oversights may cause significant consequences to animal welfare.

Because of the unique nature of transport by sea and the likelihood of prolonged transport times and exposures to unique experiences, animals require additional protection from:

  • Water spray
  • Machinery exhaust, noise, heat or vibration that is likely to cause injury, suffering, or death which can be accomplished by insulating and housing animals away from these elements.
  • Inadequate supply of feed and water even in the case of unanticipated delays caused by rough waters, international trade barriers, movement restrictions, etc.  Sea carriers must factor the possibility of such delays in calculating feed and water requirements and should have an additional day of feed and water for every 4 days of planned journey time.
  • Prolonged suffering in the event of injury by having:
    • access to a veterinarian for advice
  • stockpersons trained to care for the animals
  • ample medical supplies and if suffering cannot be alleviated:
    • Humane killing devices and ammunition readily accessible and appropriate for the animal's age and weight. Killing devices are maintained as per manufacturer guidelines and back-up devices are readily accessible if needed.
    • Trained personnel to use device if an animal becomes injured or ill on the vessel and cannot be treated, or if the master or a veterinarian has reasonable grounds to believe that the continued transportation of the animal in question will cause suffering to it, the sea carrier is able to humanely kill the animal using generally accepted methods on the vessel without unnecessary delays.

Preparation of Animals: Prior to a prolonged sea voyage where animals are unloaded on the vessel: In order to reduce animal stress and suffering, sea carriers are advised to:

  • Have a clinical examination done of the animals to be transported within the 48 hours preceding loading to ensure they are in good health and in good body condition.
  • Ensure that young animals are weaned from the dam at least 14 days prior to loading, or be travelling with their dam.
  • Ensure animals are pre-conditioned (allowed to become familiar to their new surroundings and environment) during which they have a chance to become accustomed to the feed and watering system, and to the other animals intended to be transported together.
  • Provide close monitoring of the animals to ensure that they are adapting well. Those not adapting should not be shipped.

Attendants: Livestock or poultry are cared for by an adequate number of attendants or stockpersons for the animals being transported.  There should be a sufficient number of attendants to ensure that each animal is provided with the care it needs to ensure its welfare throughout the entire journey. The calculation is based on the type of feeding, watering and waste removal system on board (whether automated or not), and on the number and species of animals transported. Attendants have access to animals via passageways and have adequate lighting to observe the animals.

Before leaving the port: Notification to the Regulatory Authority of the Intended Transport by Sea:

In the case of sea voyages of 6 hours or more (this includes land transport conveyances that will be transported onto ferries for 6 hours or more); the following information for transport by sea (i.e. additional to the requirements of 159.4 (1)) must be provided to the veterinary inspector at least 24 hours prior to departure:

  1. planned date and time of departure;
  2. name of the person responsible to care for the livestock or poultry (in the case of a conveyance being transported by ferry for 6 hours or more, this would likely be the transporter).
  3. arrangements for communication between the sea carrier and the shipper that allow the stockperson to obtain veterinary advice at any time during transportation.

17.0 Feed, Water and Rest

17.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations: Section 159, 159.1(1)-(4), 159.2(1)-(4)

17.2 Required Outcomes

Every person who transports an animal must be aware of the time the animals last had access to feed and water prior to loading in order to determine when the next provision of feed and water will be required.  Transported animals will be provided with access to feed, water and rest at intervals that are no longer than those set out in the regulations for the species, class and condition of the animal.  Rest periods, will be no less than eight consecutive hours.

In addition, regardless of the maximum intervals as mentioned above, if any animal becomes dehydrated, begins to suffer from nutritional deficiencies or becomes exhausted prior to the reaching the maximum feed, water and rest interval, it must be provided feed, and/or water and/or rest required before the journey can resume.  Intervals do not restart until the animal has been rested for at least 8 hours and has had full access to feed and water during that rest period.

17.3 Guidance to Regulated Parties

Each species and each class of animal has a unique physiology that dictates its feed and water requirements.  Additionally, the animal's health at the time of loading, the handling during loading, the weather, the distance, the load density and the compatibility of the animals within, the condition of the conveyance, the ventilation, the road conditions, driving style, etc. will all contribute to the animal's  experience and will directly or indirectly affect its hunger, thirst and fatigue.

Feed, water and rest intervals in the Regulations were determined based on available data, scientific findings and consultation with stakeholders and are a balance of all inputs.  They are intended for the average animal that is deemed to be fit for the intended journey and within the species and class listed, however, some animals may not be able to tolerate the entire proposed intervals thus requiring to be fed, watered and rested at more frequent intervals.  If animals are excessively thirsty, hungry or fatigued, prior to reaching the maximum proposed interval, the animal's needs must take precedence and the transporter must promptly take action.  It is important to note that even if feed, water or rest are provided to an animal to address its needs, that a new interval does not begin until the animal has full access to feed and water and been rested for a minimum of 8 hours.

Loads received near the maximum interval without feed, water and rest should be prioritized by the person or company accepting responsibility for the animals upon arrival.

Important:  Animal welfare takes precedence over the maximum time intervals in the regulation.

There is an outcome based component to feed, water and rest that must be considered in addition to the prescribed maximum intervals. Preventing an animal from suffering due to dehydration, fatigue, or nutritional deficiencies during transportation is equally as important as staying within the proposed maximum time limits.

Example: The proposed maximum time limit to transport adult, healthy, fit pigs without feed, water and rest is 28 hours from the time of feed and water withdrawal on farm until the pigs are next offered feed, water and rest. However, on a very hot and humid day, pigs may suffer from dehydration after as few as 6 hours of transportation which if feed and water are removed prior to loading, may be 10-12 hours from last access. The operator of the conveyance is responsible for taking measures such as providing water to the pigs even though the maximum allowable interval has yet to be reached. Should the operator of the conveyance ignore the needs of the animals and should the animals arrive at their final destination within the 28 hour time limit, but determined to be dehydrated, exhausted or suffering from nutritional deficiencies, the operator would be found non-compliant.

Transporters should monitor animals in the load frequently to identify and promptly address any conditions that may lead to animal suffering.

Table 1. Maximum intervals without feed, water, and rest for fit animals
Species and Class Maximum time interval (in hours) without feed, water, rest
Any compromised animal of any species, any size, any age, any sex, any breed

12

Livestock, cervids, and camelids that are 8 days of age or less, and ruminants that are too young to be fed exclusively on hay and grain

12

Broiler chickens

24

Spent laying hens

24

Rabbits

24

Pigs

28

Equine

28

Day-old chicks (from the time of hatching)

72

All other animals

36

Important Note: The maximum intervals without access to feed, water and rest only apply to animals that are able to tolerate those intervals without becoming dehydrated, weakened from feed deprivation or exhausted during transport. In some instances intervals will need to be shorter to prevent nutritional abnormality, dehydration and exhaustion. In such cases, the animals must be provided feed, water and/or rest as required as per Section 159.1(1) prior to reaching the maximum intervals above.

Locations to provide feed, water and rest: Once the transporter determines that the animals must be fed, watered and rested, this can be done by unloading the animals at a suitable facility or on board a suitably equipped conveyance.  Such a facility or conveyance needs to have sufficient supplies of, and each animal access to, feed and water and must have sufficient space for all of the animals to lie down at the same time without affecting the welfare of other animals in doing so.  The conveyance or the facility must be well ventilated and must provide the animals an environment that will keep them clean and dry and must be well bedded and must have secure footing.

Feed and water for sea transport: During transport by sea, animals must have access to feed and water, and are never to exceed the posted maximum intervals, even in the case of unanticipated delays (e.g. rough waters, international trade barriers, movement restrictions, etc.).  Sea carriers must consider the possibility of such delays in calculating feed and water requirements and must have an additional day of feed and water for every 4 days of planned journey time.  See Vessels section for more information.

CFIA Discretion: If a regulated party informs CFIA of a transportation delay where the maximum feed, water and rest interval would be exceeded due to unforeseen circumstances which are deemed to be out of the regulated party's control, CFIA may evaluate the situation and use discretion in taking enforcement action under the following conditions:

  1. The incident is a rare occurrence,
  2. The incident is unforeseen and out of the regulated party's control
  3. The incident is deemed reasonable by CFIA under the circumstances
  4. The incident results in the only contravention that requires enforcement action (i.e. no other sections of the HAR were violated and animals are not suffering from nutritional deficiency, dehydration or exhaustion)
  5. The regulated party provides evidence that measures have been taken to minimize animal suffering caused by the delay.

In these infrequent situations it is unlikely that a notice of violation would be issued, solely based on exceeding the maximum FWR time interval.

18.0 Transfer of Responsibility

18.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations:  159.3 (1)-(2)

18.2 Required Outcomes

No animal is left at an establishment or facility without a signed transfer of responsibility between the transporter and the receiver who accepts care and custody of the animal and takes whatever measures are necessary to ensure that the animal does not suffer.

18.3 Guidance to regulated parties

While a signed transfer of responsibility is a reasonable requirement at any change of custody, this section refers primarily to loads or animals that are delivered at slaughter establishments, auction markets, assembly yards or feedlots.  Prior to receipt of the animal(s), the load is in the care and custody of the transporter and anyone who was indirectly involved in transportation decisions.  At the time of delivery, the care and custody is transferred to the receiver (person who accepts responsibility for the animal(s)).  This helps ensure that a representative of the receiving facility is physically present to accept the animal(s) so that no animal is left unattended and ensures that all parties are aware of the condition and needs of the animals when the transfer of responsibility occurs.  The receiver must then provide the necessary care to prevent animal suffering.

This transfer protects the animal(s) but also the transporter and the receiver who by signing, agree to a transfer of responsibility at the time of signing and the condition of the animals in the load.  The receiver must have the knowledge and skills to properly assess and accept responsibility for the load. A copy of the transfer may be requested by a CFIA inspector at any time.

The format of the transfer of responsibility is left to the regulated parties, however the document must be legible and must contain at a minimum:

  • the names of the transporting company and the driver,
  • the receiving company and representative,
  • the date; time of the transfer,
  • the last time the animal was fed, watered and rested and
  • any notes regarding animal welfare concerns and animals found dead.

19.0 Records

19.1 Regulatory Authority

Health of Animals Regulations Section 159.4 (1)-(4)

19.2 Required Outcomes

Every commercial carrier will record and keep written records of every animal shipment.  Records will be made at the time of loading and will contain all of the information required in the HAR section 159.4 (1)-(4).  The format of the record is not prescribed and is determined by the regulated party to support their own business needs.

19.3 Guidance to regulated parties

Every person who transport animals for financial benefit, regardless of the quantity or the frequency, are required to keep records related to the movement of those animals.  Records must be provided prior to departure and must contain at a minimum:

  • Name and address of the producer or shipper, consignee or receiver,
  • The transport company and the driver name,
  • An identification number (license) of the conveyance in which the animals are moved (usually the trailer),
  • The measurement in square meters or square feet of floor area available to animals in the conveyance (for uncrated animals) or in the crate (for crated animals); do this per species and per segregated area if multiple species or classes are loaded,
  • The date and place that the crates or conveyance were last cleaned and disinfected,
  • The date, time and place that the animals came into the carrier's (driver's) custody,
  • The description of the animals in the load (e.g. species, class and any other info parties may find helpful),
    • Example: Bovine, cull cows, 2 in the load appear thin but otherwise fit to transport.
    • Example: Poultry, spent hens, 20% have poor feather cover but appear able to make the trip if appropriately tarped.
  • The number of animals in the load (per species if multiple species are loaded),
  • The gross weight of the animals (per species if multiple species are loaded),
  • The last time the animals had access to feed, water and rest.  These numbers may differ since water is often provided longer than feed.  The person who had care and custody of the animals prior to loading (the owner or a representative of) will provide this information to the transporter via a signed declaration
    • Example: last fed (date and time of day) water stopped (date and time of day), last rested (usually coincides with the onset of loading).
  • The last time an animal of any species that is in heavy lactation was milked prior to loading.  The person who had care and custody of the animals prior to loading (the owner or a representative of) will provide this information to the transporter via a signed declaration.
  • The name and address of the establishment or facility to which the animals are delivered if that place is a slaughter establishment, an auction market, an assembly yard or a feedlot (can be coordinated with Transfer of Responsibility see section 159.3 (1)-(2).

In addition to the information in the animal transport record at the time of loading, the transporter will add as the information becomes available:

  • The date, time and place that animals were provided with feed, water and/or rest while in the carrier's custody, and
  • The date, time and place that the animals are unloaded at the destination, and the name of the person who accepted them (can be coordinated with Transfer of Responsibility see section 159.3 (1)-(2).

The driver of the conveyance will keep the original or a copy of the record with, at a minimum, the information listed above, and will provide it to CFIA upon request.

20.0 Coming into Force

In order to give regulated parties adequate time to make changes to current practices and processes that may be required to fully comply with this amendment, the regulatory amendment to the Health of Animals Regulations Part XII will not be enforced until 12 months following publication in Canada Gazette Part II.  The current Regulations will apply until then.  Regulated parties are however encouraged to work towards transition as soon as possible to ensure that all required changes occur prior to the date of Coming into Force.

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