Transportation: The road to continual improvement
This section last updated: March 1, 2014
Driving the safe and responsible relocation of livestock
High standards to support the well-being of livestock during all stages of relocation and transportation have emerged as a top priority of the livestock industry across Canada and beyond.
One reason is that transportation is one of the most frequent and high profile interactions with the public. People see animals on trucks and wonder about their handling, care and well-being. Accidents with livestock in transport bring even great exposure and subsequently greater concern.
The industry has responded, systematically attacking the issues head on. For example, the industry has taken on a number of measures to guard against the loading of unfit livestock. It has also supported standards related to time in transit, stocking densities and the training of livestock handlers.
This has proven invaluable as farm animal care becomes a growing focus of industry and consumers worldwide, with livestock transport standing out as one of the most critical and visible components.
Marrying agriculture and transport sectors
Transportation is an area that crosses industry and regulatory boundaries. Producers and others in agriculture share the same responsibilities and challenges as truckers and others in the transportation sector. Both fall under an emerging and increasingly sophiosticated regulatory environment.
All of this demands a balance of both scientific and practical knowledge, with experience in handling and transporting livestock having much to offer alongside the growing body of research knowledge. And all of that bound by increasing pressure and expectations on regulatory and industry oversight.
Training and certification programs for livestock transport have been developed and implemented in both Canada and the U.S. through cross-sector cooperation, involving everyone from farmers and transporters to meat plant operators. A driving force is the philosophy that optimal livestock care is good not only for the animals but also for business - a concept increasingly reinforced through a rising number of studies.
A leading example of progress to support the safe and humane transport of livestock in Canada is the Canadian Livestock Transport (CLT) Certification program. The former Certified Livestock Transport training program was originally developed through Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) in association with its sister animal care associations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
In 2013 it completed the transition to fully national program, with a new home under the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC). Hundreds of transporters, shippers and receivers, and others, are trained and certified through CLT every year. Two of the main strengths of CLT are that the content presents the current regulations for animal transport in Canada and the training and certification is recognized throughout Canada and United States.
Cooperation and communication
Looking to the future, there is broad consensus among the stakeholders involved that ongoing communication and cooperation across all components involved in farm animal relocation is key to continual improvement. Strong progress on this particularly over the past decade has helped to improve the overall understanding of livestock movement, including the major challenges and opportunities.
It also clearly establishes expectations. The links forged between the transportation sector and the livestock industries form an essential anchor to ongoing development and implementation of realistic, proactive animal care transportation initiatives.
Developing standards that are tailored to Canada's needs has been a primary concern, since many international standards, including those developed by the new World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), have largely reflect the needs of European countries. Major advance have been made to address this in recent years and it remains a key priority to have guidelines that first and foremost to reflect the best humane animal transport practices for Canada.
One clear message comes through the livestock transportation area. Substantial progress has been made on all levels from research, to production, to oversight and communications, and expectations are high for that to continue. Animal care in transportation has moved from an area of concern to an area of significant pride in these developments.
The Latest – Thinking. Ideas. Developments.
Codes of Practice: Windows on an evolving world
This section last updated: March 3, 2014
Note: This section is regularly updated with new stories. Check back regularly for the most recent version of this VeriCare Live report.
What people are saying
Perspectives on progress
This section last updated: March 3, 2014
"As livestock producers, we know that livestock care doesn't end when animals leave the farm. Safe transport is a top priority and an area where we have long worked with the transportation industry, those involved in emergency response, and different levels of government, to continually improve approaches and resources. This type of teamwork is absolutely essential to livestock care progress."
– Heini Hehli, a Rimbey-Alta.-area dairy producer and Chair of Alberta Farm Animal Care
"If we say 'we're there,' that we've done all we need to, I think we're limiting ourselves. We're never there. We have great opportunity to continually improve and do a better job."
– Daryl Toews of Steve's Livestock Transport
"Canadian Livestock Transport (CLT) is a visionary program with a track record of success that speaks for itself. It has received great pick-up from the industry and there has been significant and growing interest from across the country."
– Mark Beaven, Executive Director of Canadian Animal Health Coalition
"Animal care must be foremost in every transporter's mind. It takes just as much preparation to move an animal two miles down the road and do it right as it does to move it across the country. Programs such as TQA and CLT are excellent. I think the future of our industry is training, training and more training, to continually get better."
– Dave O'Rourke, Livestock Transport Specialist with Farm and Food Care