If you have attended one of AFAC’s backyard chicken webinars then you will most likely recognize the name Cassandra Kirkpatrick. While most regard Cassandra as the expert in all backyard chicken-related matters, she wasn’t always as involved as she is today. In fact, Cassandra didn’t even like chickens initially; however, it is safe to say that she loves them now! Currently, Cassandra juggles her time between managing her company Jungle Out There pet services, caring for her chickens and teaching workshops with AFAC.(more…)
The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC) has launched an online training program in an effort to increase awareness around nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of equines.(more…)
AFAC works with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to deliver a webinar series on the updated humane transport regulations.
Multi-stakeholder partnership brings livestock transport regs to producers
Aug 25, 2020
Calgary, ALBERTA — A presentation from this spring’s Livestock Care Conference (LCC) has led to a new webinar series, to be offered by Alberta Farm Animal Care with technical expertise provided by the CFIA.
During our LCC in March, Nancy Simmons, a CFIA Meat Hygiene Inspector with a focus on humane transport, made a presentation on some of the key changes to transport regulations that will impact all livestock transportation in Canada. “The questions afterwards highlighted the great demand producers have for this information,” says Annemarie Pedersen, AFAC Executive Director.
They both saw the opportunity. A lot of information is specific to certain livestock sectors. “There are differences even between dairy and beef cattle for example. So why not provide specific sessions focused on each species separately? These AFAC webinars allow us to work with the industry directly and reach the producers and others involved in livestock transportation,” says Simmons.
“The series will include a CFIA presentation on the updated regulations and an extensive questions and answer period. We want to hear from the people who have to deliver on these changes and have a real discussion,” says Pedersen.
The first two sessions have been scheduled:
- Wednesday, September 9th in partnership with Alberta Pork
- Tuesday, September 22nd in partnership with Alberta Beef Producers
Other sessions are in the planning stages and will be announced as they are confirmed. Although the Alberta associations are collaborating on this series, it will be relevant and open to producers and stakeholders across the country. “Registration for this virtual webinar is free and we are very grateful for our provincial partners and the support of the CFIA for helping make this series a reality. We hope we will see producers from across Canada join as well. These rules and changes are the same for everyone,” says Pedersen.
More information and registration is available at https://www.afac.ab.ca/programs-and-events/events/
By Dr. Melissa Moggy
Recently, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry reviewed and amended the Meat Inspection Regulation. Some amendments were focused on enabling innovation and change by removing red tape, improving clarity, and changing to a more outcome-based regulation. What that means is that the regulation now specifies a desired outcome that must be met, rather than giving instructions on how that outcome is reached.
The Meat Inspection Regulation also includes updated definitions on meat by-products and inedibles, categories of salvage, and directions on collecting, handling, storing, shipping, and labelling different categories of salvage. These changes will help abattoirs to salvage more meat by-products, improve access to specialty ethnic markets, and increase access to animal food. However, these products cannot enter the food chain if they are not inspected but may be used by the owner of the animal.
There is also a new license under the Meat Inspection Regulation. The Uninspected Slaughter Operation Licence is for anyone who owns land where on-farm slaughter occurs. This licence allows producers to sell a live animal to a customer and offer on-farm slaughter and processing services to the customer. Again, the meat is uninspected and is not for sale, but is for the consumption of the customer, who is the owner of the animal.
The final thing to change in the Meat Inspection Regulation is the future allowance of Meat and Dairy Inspection Section inspectors to perform video ante-mortems. This change will be finalized after the government has completed its research on video ante-mortem inspections. It will allow inspectors to perform their ante-mortem inspection, which is needed to sell the meat, from a real-time ante-mortem video of the animal prior to slaughter. This is ideal for animals that are unfit for transport, in emergency situations, or as approved by the Director. The carcass of the animal must be transported to a licensed abattoir within two hours to complete the slaughter process and to complete a post-mortem inspection. The inspected meat can then be sold for public consumption.
Please see the factsheets below for more information:
Canadian Cattlemen recognizes its new Young Leaders as well as the distinguished Award of Distinction winners. These winners were virtually presented with their awards at the March 2020 Livestock Care Conference 2.0.
Click the link below to read the full article at Canadian Cattlemen.
By Wiolene Nordi*, Désirée Gellatly§, Daniela Meléndez*, Sonia Marti‡, Doerte Dopfer††, Kathy Parker†, Joyce Van Donkersgoed╪, and Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein*
Sheep production is on the rise in Canada, largely due to the growing ethnic market. This means that the number of lamb feedlots is also increasing to meet this demand. As with most intensive production systems, some health and welfare issues are reduced as a result of greater ability and opportunity to manage animal health while other issues may increase since disease can be more easily spread. This is true in the case of lameness, which can be caused by either infectious or non-infectious sources. Regardless of the cause, lameness is a significant animal welfare and economic concern known to be painful for the animals and costly to producers due to production losses and increased treatment and labour costs.(more…)
By Julian Cortes
Beef lameness team: Karin Orsel, Ed Pajor, Anice Thomas and Ben Caddey
Digital dermatitis (DD) has been reported in North American feedlots, but the cause is still not fully clear. DD causes ulcers on cattle feet and often results in lameness. The beef lameness team at the University of Calgary, decided to look at foot and leg conformation as well as pen conditions as factors that make it more likely for a feedlot animal to have DD. A better understanding of the potential role of each variable should provide new ideas to improve prevention and treatment.(more…)
By Dr. Kelsey Gray DVM, Prairie Swine Health Services
During the era of Covid-19, these unprecedented times bring high anxiety as we do not have all the answers. One minute, we’re told not to wear masks, and the next, well…you better get yourself a mask.
The pig industry is certainly not free from the anxiety of this evolving situation. Initial reactions by our pork producers regarding Covid-19 started with the concern “can pigs get Covid-19?” and “What am I going to do if our workers get sick? Who will care for our pigs?” and unfortunately in some areas, the heart wrenching question is now being asked “How do I mass euthanize my pigs?”(more…)
By Daniela M. Meléndez, Sonia Marti, Derek B. Haley and Karen S. Schwartzkopf-Genswein
Lethbridge Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Surprisingly, we know very little about the effects of providing beef calves a rest (including feed and water) mid-way through a long-haul (>12 hours) transport. Finding an answer to this question has become more important due to recent changes to the Canadian humane transport regulations implemented by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in February of this year. The proposed changes state that un-weaned and weaned calves can be transported a maximum of 12 and 36 hours, respectively, before an 8 hour rest is required. To provide producers and policy makers with science-based information we conducted a study evaluating the effects of different rest stop durations after different lengths of transport on indicators of welfare in 7-8-mo-old conditioned beef calves.(more…)
Dr. Melissa Moggy, Alberta Farm Animal Care
Transportation is a stressful experience for all livestock. The care of animals during transport is a significant welfare concern. Transportation begins with the selection of animals for transport and ends with unloading animals at their destination. The Health of Animals Regulations (HAR) Part XII applies to all forms of animal transport in Canada, such as trailers, trains, and vessels. It is enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA can conduct an inspection at any time and at any location where animals are transported, including abattoirs, auction markets, and assembly centres.(more…)
By Roy Lewis DVM
A few years ago cattle in an American feedlot went down during transport to a packing plant, and others developed severe lameness. This condition was eventually labeled fatigued cattle syndrome (FCS) and became a huge animal welfare issue due to the appearance of severely lame, non-ambulatory cattle.(more…)
By Dr. Melissa Moggy, Alberta Farm Animal Care
Four students from the University of Alberta are conducting a capstone project with mentorship from Alberta Farm Animal Care and faculty member, Dr. Clover Bench. We were initially asked by the course professor for project ideas, and we considered multiple producer challenges on which to focus. Producer mental health was a consideration as we know that it is closely related to animal welfare. However, we realized that, with so many challenges that producers face, we need more information on what producers perceive are their biggest challenges. Regardless of what challenges are highlighted, they would have an impact on their mental health if producers feel overwhelmed and not supported.(more…)
Sarah Struthers and Karen Schwean-Lardner
Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan
Beak treatment of laying hens is an important management practice as it is one of the most effective methods of controlling or eliminating cannibalism within egg-production flocks. Infrared beak treatment (IRBT) is the most commonly used methodology in Canada, and the available literature shows that IRBT has less of a negative impact on production and welfare than with other methodologies.(more…)
By Roy Lewis DVM
The livestock industry is coping very well and making great strides with addressing the topic of decreasing antimicrobial usage which indirectly helps with antimicrobial resistance. From veterinarians setting the example and producers from the cow-calf sector to the feedlot implementing effective coping strategies, huge progress is being made. There are management changes which can be made to minimize disease incidence. The policymakers can also look at ways to increase research in antimicrobials or alternative treatment methods. Monitoring and surveillance of drug resistance such as the Task Force headed by the veterinary colleges to look at the evolution of antibiotic resistance has been formed. What can you do today as a cattle producer in whichever segment of the cattle industry you are involved in? This article will address changes you can make to hopefully decrease disease incidence and therefore the need for more antimicrobial usage in your calves.(more…)
Dr. Kelsey Gray DVM, Prairie Swine Health Services
In British Colombia (B.C.), there are over 1500 outdoor small lot pig producers and this is expanding in Alberta and across Canada. This type of production is growing as “farm-to-fork” movements and eating local are increasing in popularity. As this group grows, we recognize that there is a gap in knowledge about raising pigs safely, humanely, and efficiently outdoors.(more…)
By Tory Shynkaruk and Karen Schwean-Lardner, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan
How we manage birds has a huge impact on their productivity, health, behaviour, and profitability. Lighting programs are an important management tool for poultry production. Traditionally, broiler chickens have been raised with little (1 hour) or no dark, with the belief this allowed them full visual access to their environment now know that birds need a period of darkness for optimal welfare and production. When birds are given a continuous period of 4-6 hours of darkness in a 24 hour period, they are more productive, healthier, more active, and sleep better.
The objective of this research was to understand the effects of different durations of darkness on broiler performance, feeding behaviour, and feed rates.(more…)
By: Kailyn Beaulac and Karen Schwean-Lardner, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan
Stocking density has the ability to directly influence economic return for producers however, it is important to consider other factors that may be affected by stocking density. While the majority of stocking density studies were conducted in the 1990’s or earlier, past studies have well documented the effects of stocking density on performance. There are few studies that evaluate how stocking density impacts the health, behaviour and overall well-being of the bird.
Another issue with stocking density research is that there are many other factors linked to stocking density that contribute to negative bird performance and welfare, such as feeder and drinker space, poor air quality, and poor litter quality. This study attempted to account for these factors by equalizing feeder and drinker space on a per bird basis, monitoring air quality for CO2 and ammonia and adjusting ventilation based on stocking density, and by evaluating litter moisture.
The aim of this research was to study the effects of stocking density with a comprehensive approach, ensuring that confounding factors were accounted for.(more…)
By Heather Matheson-Bird
Thirty-two livestock industry professionals and stakeholders took part in a daylong conversation around strategies to mitigate pain for livestock. The emphasis was on sharing and confirming current issues, identifying knowledge gaps and exploring ways to reach the desired goal of mitigating pain. Contributors represented livestock researchers, veterinarians, animal welfare specialists, academia, government, industry organizations and pharmaceutical companies. Participants shared updates on the present state of pain control in the livestock industry in Alberta.(more…)
By: Melissa Moggy
On May 15th and 16th I took part in the Beef Feedlot Welfare Auditor Training in Lethbridge, AB. However, the training started before that with two prerequisite online courses. First, we were required to take Beef Feedlot 201. The course ensures that the training participants are familiar with the feedlot industry. Everything from where the cattle originate, how they are transported, to how the feed is stored. Additionally, participants were required to take the NCFA eLearning course, which serves as training for processors for the Canadian Feedlot Animal Care Assessment Program.(more…)
The 2019 LCC was themed “Partners in Progress: Tools for success.” Some of the best examples of new, species-specific innovations that are adding to the toolbox were discussed in presentations on new research findings regarding poultry behavior and lighting and on progress toward a new Feedlot Assessment Tool.(more…)
One the biggest shifts in recent months in Canadian agriculture has been the transition to new rules and expectations regarding the use of antimicrobials.
What has been the impact? How are producers and their industries adjusting? These and other key questions were tackled in a panel discussion at the 2019 LCC on “Growing pains” related to antimicrobial use and the antimicrobial resistance issue.(more…)
In a talk on Equine RRSP – Retirement, Rescue, Slaughter and Public Attitudes. Dr. Bettina Bobsien delivered valuable insights and information on the challenges related to caring for horses over what is often a long lifespan. She provided attendees with an understanding of the lengthening lifespans of horses in North America and the animal welfare implications of that trend, diving into details on the financial care and needs associated with caring for older horses and the end of life options for horses without willing caregivers.(more…)
New people building knowledge, training and connections to make a positive contribution to farm animal care are essential for Alberta to remain a leader.
That’s why having a strong student presence at the LCC and creating the student mentorship opportunity, Meet the Experts session, is such a vital part of the annual event. Meet the Experts is a unique forum that allows students to interact with a diverse group of industry mentors, asking questions, learning and making contacts that can help them as they complete their education and move toward starting their careers. In all, 29 students and 30 industry mentors participated in this year’s session.(more…)
Each year AFAC likes to draw attention to some good news stories by honouring individuals or groups who are dedicated to animal care day in and day out.
The AFAC Awards of Distinction were initiated in 2001 to recognize individuals and groups who have made exceptional contributions in the field of livestock welfare and those who work hard to advance the mandate of AFAC and the welfare of livestock in Alberta. They champion trusted best practices along with new, innovative ideas to improve and ensure high standards of animal care and well-being. They also provide outstanding examples both within and outside the industry as leaders and ambassadors.(more…)
The social media hashtag #LivestockCare2019 for the 2019 LCC was buzzing over the course of the event – especially during the keynote presentation by Dr. Rebecca Gimenez Husted. She shared experiences, learnings and insights based on the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue training sessions she delivers across the United States, Canada and internationally.(more…)
The progress of AFAC is powered by its expanding membership within the broader industry and farm animal care community this represents.
The LCC provides an opportunity to celebrate this strength while providing fresh knowledge, ideas and insights to drive further momentum into the future.(more…)
Dianne Finstad did an outstanding job serving as our MC for the 2019 LCC
The future is bright for farm animal care. Clear evidence was the strong attendance at the 2019 Livestock Care Conference, which brought together a broad contingent of livestock industry and farm animal care community participants.(more…)
By Cassandra Docherty MSc., Apiculture Technologist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
I fell in love with honey bees after having the opportunity to do a couple hive inspections with a professor while I was studying abroad. When I returned to Canada to finish the second half of my masters degree on an invasive fish species in Alberta, I decided to take a beginner beekeeping course. Needless to say, my fascination with these creatures only grew stronger. A year after I graduated, I was lucky to land a job working as an apiculture research technician at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. As of right now, I am hoping to expand my knowledge of honey bees and colony management, as well as develop specific technical skills to help the industry diagnose and manage pests and diseases.
The beekeeping industry in Alberta is the largest in Canada, and is home to over 315,000 honey bee colonies. Both honey production and the provision of pollination services to crops in Alberta and British Columbia are key aspects of the industry. Our goal at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is to support Alberta’s beekeepers to ensure the industry is strong and resilient, and honey bees are healthy for the future. One of our primary objectives is to assist beekeepers in developing and applying Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems in their operations to reduce the risks and costs associated with colony loss from disease outbreak.(more…)
By Roy Lewis DVM
The livestock industry is making great strides in decreasing antimicrobial usage which indirectly helps with antimicrobial resistance. From veterinarians setting the example, to cow-calf and feedlot operations implementing effective coping strategies, huge progress is being made. There are management changes which can be made to minimize disease incidence. The policymakers can also look at ways to increase research in antimicrobials or alternative treatment methods. Monitoring and surveillance of drug resistance such as an antimicrobial task force headed by the veterinary colleges, look at the evolution of antibiotic resistance. What can you do today as a cattle producer in whichever segment of the cattle industry you are involved? This article will address changes you can make that may decrease disease incidence and therefore the need for antimicrobial use in your calves.(more…)
By Devyn-Skye Brook, The Do More Agriculture Foundation
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ― Socrates
There is nothing quite like the pain, of witnessing someone that you love suffer. The feeling of powerlessness in not being able to make the mental anguish of another disappear. But here’s a little secret. No one always has it together. Every life is laced with adversity, sadness and grief. The belief that we need to manage on our own is changing, bringing us back together. There is great courage in sharing our stories.(more…)
By Roy Lewis DVM
Animal welfare issues have been discussed and reviewed in the past. Lately,
On behalf of the UCVM’s lameness team: Michelle van Huyssteen, Makaela Douglas and Karin Orsel
Lameness is the third most common health problem and
By Gosia Zobel (Scientist, AgResearch, Animal Welfare Team), Heather Neave (
Commercial livestock systems, regardless of the species, are typically geared towards promoting good health and production of the animals. Other factors that might be important to the animals, such as
Antimicrobials have been widely used in livestock since the
This summer we met Dylan Biggs, the owner and operator of TK Ranch, at a low-stress cattle handling workshop. Upon meeting Dylan, the opportunity to visit his ranch for a day came up and without hesitation we took it!
TK Ranch has been operating since 1956, and today three generations live and work on the ranch. For over 50 years TK Ranch has been committed to producing sustainable, quality beef for Albertans. The ranch was started by Thomas Koehler Biggs and is located in the endangered Northern Fescue Grasslands of east-central Alberta.
Sheep production in Canada is increasing (one million head on 11,000 farms of which 2,000 farms are in Alberta), due to the growing demand for lamb meat by consumers over the last five years as a result of growing ethnic markets. Consequently, both ewe flocks and growing/finishing lamb feedlots have been increasing in number and size within Alberta to meet the demand for this growing market.
Lameness is a common cause of welfare and economic concern in most sheep producing countries. For example,
By Dr. Darrell Dalton
In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the increased development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a global crisis. Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General of WHO stated, “Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.” This will affect generations to come. Later that year, our federal Minister of Health demanded that an action plan be developed by Health Canada to address this issue in Canada. (more…)
By Katie Koralesky and David Fraser
On-farm emergency slaughter (OFES) is one end-of-life option for farm animals that cannot be transported humanely but are fit for human consumption. OFES – whereby veterinary inspection, stunning (using a firearm) and bleeding occur on the farm before the carcass is transported to a slaughterhouse for processing – is allowed in several Canadian provinces including Alberta. The stated goals of most OFES programs are to prevent undue suffering of an injured animal and to salvage