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