Farm animals

Farm animals


Humane Canada™ accepts only those practices for care, management and use of farm animals which provide high levels of care for the animals, protect them from suffering at all stages of their lives, respect the welfare of individual animals and provide for the animals’ physical and psychological well-being and behavioural needs.

Position Statement

Humane Canada™ accepts the raising and marketing of animals for food and other products where there is a standard of care that ensures the welfare of the animals and believes that the standards set out in the Recommended Codes of Practice for Farm Animals are the minimum levels of acceptable care and handling of all livestock.

The position of Humane Canada™ is that, while it recognizes that literally millions of animals are slaughtered for food each year, that it should be done as humanely as possible, with no pain to the animal. The Meat Inspections Act requires every operator and every person engaged in the handling and slaughtering of a food animal in a registered establishment shall comply with Sections 61.1 to 80 of the Meat Inspection Regulations.

Humane Canada™ has great concern about animal welfare in illegal slaughterhouse operations, provincially licensed abattoirs and animal transportation operations. Humane Canada™ is, thus, opposed to inhumane methods of slaughter.

(Sources: Meat Inspection Act, 1990; BC SPCA; Alberta Humane Society; Ontario SPCA)

Position Statement

Humane Canada™ recognizes that horses are slaughtered in Canada for the meat market. Humane Canada™ defines a humane death as one that occurs when an animal is killed in a manner whereby it dies instantly without panic or pain, or whereby it is rendered instantly unconscious with inevitable subsidence into death without regaining consciousness. In order for horse slaughter to be considered humane, slaughter plants and government regulators must provide evidence that the facilities and methods used are appropriate for horses, causing at most, a minimal amount of momentary pain or stress, as measured by legitimate monitoring of welfare indicators such as vocalizations, instances of slipping or falling and stun efficacy.

Humane Canada™ believes it is irresponsible for a horse owner who acquires an animal for recreational purposes to indiscriminately send such an animal to auction or slaughter, rather than placing it with another suitable recreational owner or having it euthanized on-farm.

Position Statement

Humane Canada™ advocates only those farming practices that provide good welfare for the animals raised. We strongly encourage farmers to strive to meet the Five Freedoms by employing management practices and housing systems that meet both the physiological and psychological needs of the animals.

In particular, Humane Canada™ supports the replacement of all farming practices that cause pain, injury, stress and negative emotional states such as fear and frustration, with practices that minimize these effects, and provide farm animals with opportunities to express behaviours that promote well-being.

Humane Canada™ is opposed to any farming practice that leads to injury, stress or any form of suffering in farmed animals. This would include:

  • raising animals of any species at high stocking densities, which compromise animal welfare
  • breeding animals of any species to accentuate certain physical characteristics when the outcome compromises animal welfare
  • housing any animal in an environment with flooring, penning or lack of bedding that might lead to injury, or with poor ventilation, inadequate temperature control or poor sanitation that might lead to reduced health
  • housing any animal in an environment that does not allow the expression of strongly motivated behaviour, or under poor lighting that does not allow normal vision
  • feeding diets that are inappropriate for the species and may therefore compromise the animals’ welfare or using drugs routinely to support an inappropriate husbandry system

It therefore follows that specific practices to which Humane Canada™ is opposed include:

  • confining egg-laying hens in battery cages
  • raising veal calves entirely in individual crates that restrict freedom of movement
  • keeping dairy cows continuously tethered in tie-stalls without regular daily periods of exercise
  • keeping sows tethered or in crates for the duration of gestation
  • force-feeding waterfowl for the production of foie gras

For specific guidelines regarding which management and housing practices are deemed acceptable by Humane Canada™, please consult the SPCA Certified Standards.

The Five Freedoms:
The Five Freedoms describe conditions that must be fulfilled in order to prevent the suffering of domesticated animals in human care. We acknowledge that absolute provision of these freedoms may not be possible, but we expect all animal guardians to strive to provide them.

The Five Freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease
  3. Freedom from distress
  4. Freedom from discomfort
  5. Freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being
Read our position statements on farm animals
Farm animals
Humane Canada (also known as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies) is Canada's federation of SPCAs and humane societies, representing the largest animal welfare community in Canada.