Alberta Questions Humane Livestock Transport

CANADA - Shipping animals to market is a regular part of raising cattle. On any given day, there are over 400 cattle liners on the road moving Alberta beef.
calendar icon 10 February 2009
clock icon 2 minute read
Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

"The responsibility for humane transportation starts at the farm with producers making sound judgments on when to ship cattle and what animals are fit for the trip," says Adrienne Herron, livestock welfare tech transfer specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Red Deer. "Auctions, assembly yards, truckers, buyers and packers are all players in making sure cattle are fit for the trip. The federal Health of Animals Act and the provincial Animal Protection Act apply to the transportation of cattle, and this includes the prevention of suffering or distress caused by transportation."

Although some cattle may seem fit for the short distance to the auction, they may not be strong enough to make a longer trip to the processor. That longer trip can easily mean that cattle can be transported over 2000 kilometres before arriving at a processing facility. Remembering the long distances cattle have to travel is critical in making the decision on whether or not the animal is fit for transport.

"Producers must know that lame, injured, thin or ill cattle are not fit for transport and should not be taken to auction," says Herron. "Some cattle not fit for auction can be sent short distances for emergency slaughter at local plants or transported to a veterinarian for treatment. Cattle not fit for any transportation should be quickly and painlessly killed on farm. Together, all players in the Alberta cattle industry can do their part to ensure that healthy, fit cattle are safely delivered no matter the distance.

"If you are unsure about shipping certain animals contact your veterinarian, the auction market or consult resource materials such as Humane Handling of Beef Guidelines, designed and endorsed by the cattle industry, or Is that Animal Fit for the Trip, from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Remember that the short trip to the auction is only the first step in what can be a long journey for cattle." These two resource materials are available online at:


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