Codes of Practice

Canada’s Codes of Practice, Developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council

The National Farm Animal Care Council is leading the process to update Canada’s Codes of Practice to reflect new advances in animal welfare research. A Scientific Committee reviews research related to priority welfare issues for the species whose Code is being updated and its report is used to develop these codes. A total of fourteen Codes are in existence. The Council has recently updated the Codes for beef and dairy cattle, equine, fox, mink, pigs and sheep. Two additional poultry Codes (for meat birds and layers) are currently being revised. To see all the Codes and for more information on how they are developed visit

Many of Canada’s livestock sectors have created, or are creating, on-farm animal care assessment programs, based on the Codes. It varies widely, but farms can be assessed on their animal care standards and protocols as a self-audit by the farmer themselves, by trained auditors, or by third party company auditors. The concept of auditing and assessments is to manage what you measure and provide verification that your farm is following best practices to find problems quickly and continually improve.

Taking pride in animal care

Each and every farmer and rancher takes great pride in caring for the land they manage and the animals they raise. In the case of animals that are raised for food, a healthy, well-cared-for animal produces high quality food. It’s as simple as that.

Farmers and ranchers also ensure that the animals they use for work on their farms and ranches, such as horses, are also given the best care possible.

Whether it’s helping a cow give birth to a calf in the middle of the night or checking on chickens before opening Christmas presents, caring for animals has been at the core of what farmers have done every day for generations. All animals have basic needs, like food and water, health, and quality of life. Livestock depend on farmers and ranchers for everything, and farmers take this responsibility seriously.

Farmers also rely on a variety of technical people to help them with animal care and are continually sharing new technologies and management techniques to ensure their animals are healthy. Some of these professionals include veterinarians, agrologists specializing in animal care, government extension workers, scientists, and animal nutritionists.

Caring for animals properly is simply a matter of doing the right thing, but it also makes good business sense. Content, healthy animals are more productive animals and lead to higher quality food products. Farmers and ranchers are also continually working to improve farm animal care based on new and proven science. They invest in research into farm animal behaviour and housing to help better understand what farm animals need.

Farmers, like all animal owners, must follow laws for humane treatment. In addition to these laws, farmers have helped to develop the “Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals,” in conjunction with animal scientists, government, veterinarians, industry partners and the CFHS (Canadian Federation of Humane Societies).

The Codes, which are internationally-recognized as models of responsible animal care, spell out what’s appropriate in the daily care and handling of livestock and poultry in areas such as:

  • Accommodation/housing/handling facilities
  • Food and water
  • Management
  • Health (e.g., record keeping, lameness, condition scoring, sick and injured animals)
  • Transportation
  • Euthanasia
  • Husbandry/stockmanship