The truth about livestock transport
As Canadians we often feel pride in the laws and rights we have in our country. Let's face it, in many areas we set the bar pretty high. But, when it comes to laws protecting livestock during transportation we hugely miss the mark.
I recently read an article on CTV News in which Krista Hiddema, managing director of Mercy for Animals Canada, explained that 'Our transportation regulations in Canada are the worst in the Western world.'
She went on to say, 'Animals are often transported thousands of kilometres without any food, water, shelter or any protection from the elements.'
If there's one area I know well it's transportation, it was after all my corporate career for close to 10 years. Although I had never dealt in livestock transport some of the facts in this article were shocking to say the least.
In Canada, cattle are currently able to be in transport for up to 52 consecutive hours without food or water, while pigs and chicken can go a maximum of 36 hours.
36 hours?! As a poultry and hog farmer I cannot even imagine subjecting my animals to that sort of treatment.
Take our chicken for example, the abattoir we use is exactly 27km from our door. That means our birds are in transport for a total of 30 minutes.
Now I know we'd all rather not have to think about this part of the process but it is a fact for both farmers and meat-eaters alike.
On a commercial farm a crew is hired to catch the chickens and load them into the transport trailer to be taken to the plant. While I can't speak for all crews, or all chicken catchers for that matter, I do know that speed and getting the job done tends to be the primary objective in many cases.
At Central Park Farms, we are the catching crew. On the day our birds go to be processed we wake up nice and early and start our day by catching our flock. We take great care in loading our birds into proper transportation crates and into our livestock trailer. From there we make the 30 minute trip to the plant arriving just before our appointment.
By handling them this way we greatly reduce stress by limiting not only the time our birds are in transit but also the total time they remain in their crates to one and a half hours.
But, times are changing and consumers are starting to take notice. According to recent statistics, '97 per cent of Canadians said it is important for animals to be transported in a humane manner that addresses their basic needs.'
It's time for our federal livestock transportation laws to be updated but in the meantime let's start asking more questions of the people who produce our food. These animals deserve better than inhumane, decades-old legislation.
Kendall ~ The chick behind Central Park Farms