Canada’s Farm Animal Transport System In Need Of Repair
Based on inspection reports filed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) between October 2008 and January 2009, this study of farmed animal transportation systems finds that Canadian standards for transport are significantly weaker than those found in other regions, including Europe and the United States. This is a significant issue, with much evidence to suggest that food-borne illnesses are easily transmitted among animals that are packed into trucks and train cars.
According to this study, unacceptable numbers of animals die during transport. This issue is particularly prevalent among chickens as death occurs most often when these birds are moved over long distances in inclement weather. Approximately two to three million animals arrive dead each year at slaughterhouses. From October 2008 to January 2009, a total of 634,634 chickens, 11,439 turkeys, 3,396 pigs, and 153 cattle died during transport. CFIA policy is to investigate if more than 1% of broiler chickens or more than 4% of spent hens arrive dead, compared to the U.S. threshold of 0.5% generally, and 0.3% for the Certified Humane label.
Animals are transported in overcrowded conditions in Canada. For example, anywhere from seven to sixteen chickens are packed into half-meter square crates, and cows sometimes arrive at plants with sores on their backs from irritation against the roof of the truck. A Texas Tech University study finds that anywhere from 6% to 89% of animals are covered with salmonella after being confined in crowded areas for 40 minutes.
Despite federal regulation, the evidence suggests that severely injured and sick animals are being transported to slaughterhouses and left to suffer for prolonged periods of time in violation of federal or provincial animal cruelty laws. A shortage of trained welfare inspectors also puts animal health and welfare at risk. Currently, 329 animal inspectors and 980 meat inspectors are employed by the CFIA to inspect and supervise 771 facilities that slaughter 700 million animals per year.
The CFIA’s reporting and enforcement procedures are weak and inconsistent, according to this report. There is evidence to show that inspectors issue only warnings or pamphlets, even for clear and egregious violations of regulations.
Animals also suffer as a result of poor driver training. Drivers are unaware of regulations including the provision which allows them to refuse transport of any injured animals. In many cases, drivers did not know how many animals were on board their trucks.
Specific incidents of animal welfare violations are included in the full report.