The National Farm Animal Care Council is digging in and forging ahead on one brand new livestock Code of Practice plus significant revisions on three more: goats for meat, fibre and dairy, dairy cattle, and livestock and poultry transport.
Jackie Wepruk is the general manager of NFACC, and says that opening each of these codes means that each aspect of animal care is up for review, revision, and updating. For some, the update is long over due. Wepruk says that codes should be updated, ideally, every 10 years. For the goat code, the last edition is from 2003 — this review is well over due.
The goat code will address housing and handling, feed and nutrition, health, record keeping, dealing with pre-transport considerations (including fitness for transport), euthanasia, and emergency management and preparedness, for example. All of this is open for revision.
“Animal welfare in general is more of a top of mind issue so it really becomes a question of what do we need to ensure is happening on farms and that farmers are aware of requirements,” she says. Some of that push is driven by processors looking for assurances, some is driven by industry that sees a need to provide assurances. For dairy goats especially, it’s a sector that is continuing to grow with new entrants coming on line, and updated codes are a key resource for farmers just starting out.
Wepruk says that new for this round of reviews is a pre-revision survey, open to everyone. She says that for each code — including the brand new farmed finfish code — individuals and organizations will have an opportunity to outline what is top of mind for animal welfare concerns. “Everyone will have the opportunity to provide insight into questions, concerns, and priorities,” she says.
This information is key to ensuring the Codes of Practice are thorough and workable. And that matters, as while the codes aren’t mandatory, they aren’t entirely voluntary, either. “In many cases they are incorporated by reference in animal welfare laws by province,” Wepruk says. “In some provinces they are a positive duty of care or can be used as evidence that an offence has occurred.” What’s more, many livestock assessments or assurance systems are based on the codes, though they themselves are not regulatory documents.
Wepruk says to think of them like an insurance policy — as long as you’re following this code, you’re inline with best care practices in a legal sense, too.
In the coming revisions, Wepruk says the new transport regulations will be reflected in the codes. The dairy cattle code will also reflect new research, changes in market and consumer demands, and be based on current practices.