Protecting animals during transport in hot and humid weather
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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reminds everyone involved in the transport process to take appropriate measures to protect animals from the effects of extreme weather.
Every person transporting animals in Canada is legally obligated to ensure that no part of the journey is likely to cause suffering, injury or death. This includes preparation for loading, loading, holding animals on a stationary vehicle, transporting and unloading them. Regulations apply to anyone involved directly or indirectly in the transport process. This includes animal owners, producers, shippers, drivers, and operators of abattoirs, assembly centres and feedlots.
When the weather is hot and humid, extra measures must be taken to protect every animal from potential suffering, injury, or death that would be caused by, or made worse by, inadequate ventilation and weather conditionsFootnote 1.
Special attention should be given to pigs and poultry because they do not have sweat glands and are therefore very sensitive to heat stress.
Extra measures may include:
- delaying loading and transport during extremely hot periods
- reducing loading density
- minimizing stress when handling animals to minimize overheating
- having contingency plans for foreseeable events that occur in hot and humid weather (for example, what to do in case of traffic jam, mechanical breakdown or accident, or if the unloading is delayed at destination, etc.)
- making arrangements in advance when delivering animals to avoid any unloading delays (for example, just in time for slaughter or immediate unloading to holding areas, redirect the load to another establishment or facility, establish a system allowing the transporter to drive around to allow for ventilation, etc.)
- providing sufficient ventilation at all times, including when the vehicle is stopped, during the loading operations and when animals are confined in the vehicle while waiting to be unloaded
- monitoring weather conditions closely and adjusting ventilation accordingly
- parking vehicles containing animals in the shade when it is necessary to stop
- minimizing the number and duration of stops to prevent the build-up of heat in the vehicle
For additional information, consult the species specific National Farm Animal Care Council's Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals and the Transportation Code.
The majority of Canadian producers, processors and transporters are committed to treating animals humanely. However, in circumstances where animals are not appropriately cared for, the CFIA will not hesitate to take enforcement actions which may include licence suspensions, issuance of warnings or fines, and possible prosecutions under various federal regulations including the Health of Animals Regulations, the Safe Food for Canadian Regulations and the Criminal Code.
See Humane transport and animal welfare for more information on livestock transport requirements in Canada, including transport practices, provincial requirements, fitness for transport and special provisions.
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