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Livestock and poultry transport in Canada

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Make sure animals are fit for the journey

Regulatory guidance and resource documents are designed to help stakeholders interpret and implement the regulations. They provide clarification and examples on what is required of those involved in the transport of animals.

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The requirements for the transport of all animals into, within and out of Canada are found in Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations.

All those involved in transporting animals either directly or indirectly have the responsibility to assess animals for fitness, then select, prepare and load only animals that are fit for the intended journey.

If you are responsible for activities related to the loading, unloading or transporting of animals, you must be familiar with – and follow – Canada's transport of animals regulations.

Enforcement actions are proportional to the animal welfare situation and the seriousness of the non-compliance and can include notices (verbal or written) and penalties (monetary or non-monetary).

Assess before loading animals: Preparation for transport

Only animals that are fit to handle transport may be loaded. If you are not sure, refer to the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) species specific codes of practice or seek the advice of a professional before deciding to load an animal.

Animals must not be transported unless they are fit enough to withstand the entire journey without suffering pain or distress that is caused by, or made worse by, the transport process.

Fit for transport

Animals are fit for transport when there are no signs of illness or poor health. This means:

a fit cow as an example of a fit animal

Check animals before transport

Click on image for larger view Check animals before transport brochure image. description follows

Check animals before transport

Scenario 1 - If your animal is unfit:

  • It must be isolated in transport, loaded alone without negotiating ramps
  • Measures must be taken to prevent unnecessary suffering and must not go to an assembly centre or an abattoir
  • Under the advice of a veterinarian and to receive veterinary care only

Scenario 2 - If your animal is compromised:

  • It must be isolated in transport, loaded alone without negotiating ramps
  • Measures must be taken to prevent unnecessary suffering and the animal must not go to an assembly centre
  • Seek nearest place the animal can receive care or be humanely killed

Scenario 3 – En route, if you suspect your animal is compromised or unfit:

  • When monitoring the animal en route and it seems OK, continue transport but if the animal seems to be compromised or unfit, options are to humanely kill on truck or to seek the nearest place (including an assembly yard) where the animal can receive care or be humanely killed

Unfit animals: Do not transport

stop sign

Animals that are unfit must not be transported except to receive veterinary care on the advice of a veterinarian.

an example of a sick or dying sheep lying down

Options for unfit animals include:

  • treat and care for on farm
  • humanely kill or slaughter on farm
  • transport directly to a place where they can receive veterinary care
an example of a goat with signs of a broken leg

An animal is unfit for transport if it:

an example of a very thin horse showing its ribcage
  • is extremely thin
  • is in shock or is dying
  • shows signs of dehydration
  • shows signs of hypothermia or hyperthermia
  • shows signs of a fever
  • shows signs of a generalized nervous system disorder
  • has laboured breathing
  • has a severe open wound or a severe laceration
  • has a navel with delayed healing or infection
an example of a sheep having difficulty breathing
an example of a cow with a cancerous eye and an inflamed udder an example of a cow with signs of swelling and bloating
  • has a gangrenous udder
  • has severe squamous cell carcinoma of the eye
  • is bloated to the extent that it exhibits signs of pain or weakness
  • is in the last 10% of pregnancy or has given birth during the last 48 hours
  • has a prolapsed uterus or a severe rectal or severe vaginal prolapse
  • has a hernia that:
    • impedes its movement, including when a hind limb touches the hernia as the animal is walking
    • causes the animal to show signs of pain or suffering
    • touches the ground when the animal is standing in its natural position or
    • has an open wound, ulceration or obvious infection
  • is a trembling pig, with difficulty breathing and discoloured skin
  • shows signs of exhaustion
  • shows any other signs of infirmity, illness, injury or a condition that indicates that it cannot be transported without suffering
an example of a pig with a hernia

Compromised animals: transport only with special provisions


Compromised animals do not handle the stress of transportation well.

Take steps to prevent additional injury or suffering caused by transportation. Transporting a compromised animal without meeting the regulatory requirements violates Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations. For example:

An animal is considered compromised if it:

Regulatory requirements for compromised animals include:

Examples of measures to care for compromised animals during transport can include:

An animal that becomes unfit or compromised during transport:

Contact your veterinarian, dispatch or the slaughter facility you are transporting to if you are not sure of the special provisions needed to move a compromised animal.

General requirements for the transport of animals

To help protect animals during transport, requirements include:

Configuration of suitable loading facility (for example, side rails, ramp, no gap).


If you are not sure an animal is fit for the trip, contact your veterinarian or a transport specialist, or refer to the NFACC codes of practice.

Visit humane transport and animal welfare or contact your nearest CFIA Area office for more information.

Note: This information is provided for information purposes. The user should consult the applicable legislation. In the event of any discrepancy between the Health of Animals Regulations and the Livestock Transport in Canada Brochure, the Health of Animals Regulations shall prevail.

Checklist for animal transport

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