Alberta Farm Animal Care Association

When cattle are transported, they are subject to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulations under the Health of Animals Regulations Part XII, the Compromised Animal Policy, and provincial legislation. These regulations dictate what conditions make an animal compromised or unfit for transport.

Compromised animals:

Compromised animals are defined by the CFIA as “an animal with reduced capacity to withstand transportation but where transportation with special provisions will not lead to undue suffering.”

  • Compromised cattle must not be shipped to auction markets for sale.
  • Compromised cattle may be locally transported with appropriate special provisions (e.g. in a separate trailer compartment) to receive care, or to be euthanized or humanely slaughtered.

Unfit animals:

Unfit animals are defined by the CFIA as “an animal with reduced capacity to withstand transportation and where there is a high risk that transportation will lead to undue suffering.”

  • Unfit cattle may not be transported, except to a veterinarian for treatment or diagnosis.

When deciding if an animal can be transported, it is important to consider how the animal will withstand loading, transit, and unloading. If an animal is being shipped to an auction market, the animal needs to be fit enough to withstand sale conditions and at least one subsequent trip.

The goal of AFAC’s Compromised Cattle Benchmarking Project was to observe cattle arriving at auction markets and abattoirs throughout Alberta and catalogue the incidence and type of conditions observed upon arrival.

The following conditions were most commonly observed:

  • Heavy lactation
  • Emaciation (body condition score <2 out of 5)
  • Lameness (moderate and severe)
  • Severe limb injuries/swellings
  • Severe respiratory signs

This project was funded through the Assurance Systems stream of the AgriMarketing Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The project was also supported by Alberta Beef Producers, Alberta Milk and Alberta Cattle Feeders Association.

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