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© Canadian Agri-Food Research Council - Printed 1998

Available from either the

Ontario Veal Association
130 Malcolm Road
Guelph, Ontario
N1K 1B1
Telephone 519-824-2942
Facsimile 519-824-9101


La Fédération des producteurs de bovins du Québec
555 Roland-Therrien
Longueil QC
J4H 3Y9
Telephone 514-679-0530
Facsimile 514-442-9348

Also available in french

Coordinated by

Canadian Agri-Food Research Council (CARC)
CARC Canada Committee on Animals
CARC Expert Committee on Farm Animal Welfare and Behaviour
Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

Review Committee

Participants are listed in Appendix "E"

Financial contributions

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Canadian Food Inspection Agency


Courtesy of Grober Inc. and the Delft Blue Group


The Canadian Agri-Food Research Council (CARC) gratefully acknowledges the many individuals and organizations who contributed their valuable time, views and expertise to the development of this Code of Practice. The development of this Code was made possible only through teamwork and cooperation at the national level.


The Codes of Practice are nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of the different species of farm animals. The Codes contain recommendations for housing and management practices for farm animals as well as transportation and processing.

The Codes are voluntary and are intended as an educational tool in the promotion of sound husbandry and welfare practices. The Codes contain recommendations to assist farmers and others in the agriculture and food sector to compare and improve their own management practices.

In 1980, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies began coordinating the process of development of draft Codes of Practice for all livestock species with the introduction of a Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Chickens from Hatchery to Slaughterhouse. The federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada provided financial support for the undertaking at that time.

All Codes are presently developed by a Review Committee made up of representatives from farm groups, animal welfare groups, veterinarians, animal scientists, federal and provincial governments, related agricultural sectors and interested individuals.

In 1993, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada asked the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council (CARC) and its Canada Committee on Animals and Expert Committee on Farm Animal Welfare and Behaviour to take the lead in cooperation with the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies in updating existing Codes and developing new commodity Codes. CARC officially agreed to take on this responsibility in February 1995 upon confirmation of funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

In 1996, CARC with the support of the provincial governments began producing four page factsheets in both English and French for such uses as teaching agriculture in the classroom, agricultural fairs and exhibitions.

Codes developed to date:

Species Original Revision


Veal calves

Ranched mink

Ranched fox

Dairy cattle

Beef cattle


Farmed deer













(being developed)











Further information on the process of Code development can be obtained from the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council (CARC), Heritage House, Building 60, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C6. Requests for copies of the Codes can be addressed to the national commodity group and/or specific provincial organizations.

The CARC Home Page is for further information.


Information contained in this publication is subject to periodic review in light of changing Veal management practices, government requirements and regulations. No subscriber or reader should act on the basis of any such information without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without seeking appropriate professional advice. Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the Review Committee shall not be held responsible for loss or damage caused by errors, omissions, misprints or misinterpretation of the contents hereof. Furthermore, the Review Committee expressly disclaims all and any liability to any person, whether the purchaser of this publication or not, in respect of anything done or omitted, by any such person in reliance on the contents of this publication.


Copyright © Canadian Agri-Food Research Council (CARC) Conseil de recherches agro-alimentaires du Canada (CRAC), 1998. All rights reserved.
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This Code of Practice deals with the care and handling of veal calves only (see Definitions, p. 1). Statements in boxes are for the purposes of highlighting the importance of information, making general comments, giving further support to points being made or referring to research.

The successful raising of veal calves under humane conditions is entirely dependent upon the skills, training, and integrity of the veal producer.

Producers must meet the following criteria before placing calves in a commercial veal production farm:

- Have a thorough knowledge of the requirements of calves for the part of the life cycle that they are on the producer's premises.

- Have a working knowledge of the nutritional needs of calves.

- Have a thorough knowledge of calf behaviour.

- Have suitable facilities and financial resources to supply proper housing, a consistent and reliable source of feed and water, treatment for injured or sick calves, and everything else necessary to ensure the well-being of the calves. Financial cost must not be considered a reason for neglecting a calf obviously in distress or for failing to secure prompt and appropriate medical treatment when necessary.

- Be prepared to assume total responsibility for the welfare of the calves. This responsibility includes developing skills of observations and a sensitivity toward the animals, as well as ensuring that all farm employees are properly trained in the maintenance of these animals.

Animal welfare considerations are vital to keeping and raising of animals. Practices are being reassessed and modified according to new knowledge and changing attitudes. High standards of animal welfare are important and have direct economic benefit to the Canadian Veal industry.

Providing competent handling and an environment that allows veal calves to fulfill their basic needs are crucial elements in putting this Code into practice. The basic elements of responsible animal care include:

- comfort and shelter;

- a diet to maintain the animals in full health and vigor;

- company of other animals, particularly of like kind;

- opportunity to express most normal patterns of behaviour;

- prevention, or rapid diagnosis and treatment, of abnormal behaviour, injury and disease;

- arrangements to cover emergencies such as outbreaks of fire, the breakdown of essential mechanical services and the disruption of supplies;

- appropriate handling.
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The following definitions are used to identify classes of calves in the industry.

Bob veal

Bob veal refers to calves that are less than 4 weeks old, male or female. The calves are usually destined for slaughter or for other rearing facilities and feeding programs. This class is also referred to as bob calf, drop calf,or baby calf.

Grain fed veal

Grain fed veal refers to calves reared on a feed program utilizing milk-based feeds for the first six weeks and then given a whole grain-corn and protein supplements diet for the remaining portion of the production period.

Milk fed veal/

Milk fed veal refers to calves reared on a feed program utilizing milk-based feeds.

Section 1 Housing

Calves should be housed in conditions conducive to comfort, health, growth, and good performance at all stages of their lives. There are many recommended and successful systems available for rearing calves, but the system selected for use must be properly designed to meet the needs of each calf. Producers must comply with the appropriate Construction Codes1.

1.1 Insulation

1.1.1 Buildings intended for totally enclosed housing of calves should be suitably insulated.

1.2 Ventilation

1.2.1 Ventilation systems should be capable of maintaining a suitable microclimate to ensure the comfort and welfare of calves.

1.2.2 Because calves reared in confinement housing are sensitive to fluctuations in temperatures, an appropriate environment-control system designed for the rearing program should be provided.

1.2.3 Dust and noxious gases such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and methane, may accumulate in different housing systems. Ventilation in totally enclosed housing should be designed to control these factors. Regular inspection and maintenance of component parts are necessary to ensure proper operation. Manufacturers' and design specifications should be followed to ensure proper operation.

1.2.4 Calves of all ages should be protected from temperature changes and drafts.

1.2.5 Air inlets should be properly positioned and air supply matched to fan capacity. Thermostats should be used for automatic control of exhaust fans. Air inlets and ventilation systems designed to recycle small percentages of exhausted air are acceptable provided that air in the barn remains fresh and clean.

1.2.6 In the event of a breakdown of the ventilation system, a backup system must be in place to keep calves comfortable.

1.3 Humidity

1.3.1 In totally enclosed buildings the preferred relative humidity range is 55-75%.

1.4 Light

1.4.1 Light intensity should be adequate to observe all calves during inspection.

1.4.2 In totally enclosed barns, light of sufficient intensity for the calves to observe one another is recommended for a minimum of 8 hours within any 24-hour period.

Producers are encouraged to maximize natural light within barns by providing windows in strategic areas throughout barns.

1.5 Temperature

1.5.1 Supplementary heat may be needed to maintain a constant temperature. The capacity of the heating system should be based on individual barn design, local climatic factors, and particular rearing systems. It is advisable to mix cold intake air with heated air before moving the air into calf-rearing areas. Temperature control and air quality are critical.

1.6 Pen Construction and Maintenance

1.6.1 Flooring should be safe for the calves. When slatted flooring is used, the recommended maximum spacing between slats is 3.2 cm (1.25 in) and the recommended minimum top surface width of each slat is 5 cm (2 in). All flooring must be firmly supported and in good repair.

1.6.2 The flooring should provide good traction.

1.6.3 The design of pens and holding units should allow for proper drainage in order to keep calves comfortable and clean, and the slope of flooring in individual holding units or group pens should not be more than 4 cm/m (1.5 in/y).

1.6.4 Materials including preservatives and paints, used in pens to which the calves have access must not contain chemical compounds that are harmful to calves or that may contaminate the meat or make it otherwise unfit for human consumption.

1.6.5 All pen surfaces should be capable of being easily cleaned and disinfected. A regular program of cleaning and disinfecting results in reduced incidence of disease, better herd health, and reduced medical costs. Producers should initiate and maintain a regular program of hygiene and follow manufacturers' recommendations and suggested guidelines for the use and disposal of cleaning aids.

1.6.6 All facilities accessible to the animals should be free of sharp edges or projections that may cause injury or discomfort to calves. All gates should be designed to permit easy entry and exit by calves.

1.6.7 All pens should permit easy visual inspection of calves.

1.6.8 Calves should be inspected at regular intervals, four times a day.

1.7 Individual Stalls

1.7.1 Individual attention and care, which is beneficial and desirable for each calf, can be achieved by utilizing individual stalls.

1.7.2 Individual stalls must allow good air circulation and permit visual contact between calves.

1.7.3 Individual stalls must be large enough to provide for normal resting postures and allow the calf to get up and lie down without difficulty.

1.7.4 Stall sizes are determined by finished calf weights, and a stall width of 70 cm (27.5 in) untethered and 80 cm (31.5 in) tethered is generally accepted.

1.7.5 For all new and renovated facilities the current minimum recommended pen size for calves weighing up to 200 kg (440 lb.) is 90 cm x 165 cm (35.5 in x 65 in).

Research has shown that when stalls are 65 cm (25.5 in) wide or less growth of calves is reduced. Current European Union requirements are that stalls must be at least 90 cm (35.5 in) wide and can only be used until calves are 8 weeks old.

1.8 Tethering

1.8.1 Tethers should not be used in closed stalls. Tethering may allow animals to be kept in open and larger stalls, providing a greater degree of visual contact between calves and greater ease in adopting resting positions.

Tethering devices must never interfere with or constrict throat passages. Tethers must not be too tight. Calves should be checked frequently for signs of wounding, and tethers should be loosened or removed if wounds are apparent. Tethers must be long enough to allow calves to stand, lie down, and eat, yet short enough to prevent them from turning around, and to protect them from strangulation. The length of tethers should be adjusted frequently to allow for calf growth.

It is important that tethering be accomplished with a minimum of stress. Calves should not be frightened when they are first tethered. It may be necessary to soothe them until they become accustomed to this type of restraint.

1.9 Group Pens

Group housing involves less restriction on the behaviour of calves and allows for greater social contact between calves. Group housing is now widely used in Europe. However, there are inherent difficulties in providing individual care for each calf, and there is increased risk of disease transmission particularly during the first 4 weeks of life. Calves in group pens require a higher degree of husbandry to ensure their health and well-being. On-going research is being conducted to improve group housing. Producers are encouraged to monitor developments in this form of housing.

1.9.1 Group pens should be large enough to allow all animals to lie comfortably at the same time. Group sizes should be kept to a manageable size. Group size is under review and management is the most critical factor.

1.9.2 Group pen sizes are determined by anticipated calf weights.

                            Weight (kg)    Space/calf

                            < 150             1.5 m2             
                            150-220          1.7 m2 
                            > 220             1.8 m2

(Source: J. officiel des Communautés européennes Directive, 97/2/CE du Conseil, le 20 janvier 1997)

1.9.3 Although some normal behaviour is satisfied in group pens, abnormal behaviour such as sucking one another, feed competition, physical injury, and urine sucking also occur and seem to increase.

Producers are encouraged to keep informed of proven measures that reduce abnormal behaviour, and to implement system modifications that enhance calf well-being and individual care and treatment within a group.

1.9.4 Cross-sucking between calves occurs when calves are fed milk, and is most frequent immediately after a milk meal. Cross-sucking and urine drinking is reduced when calves can suck a dry teat after meals. Lengthening the meal by reducing the flow rate of the milk can also reduce cross-sucking. Urine drinking may be a sign of a mineral deficiency.

1.9.5 To reduce the incidence of falling and aggression between calves, as well as providing rest areas, moveable barriers should be used to create separate areas within a group pen.

1.9.6 When grain fed calves from different pens are reassembled in a new group, particular attention should be paid to identifying problems of readjustment.

1.9.7 Separate pens should be available to individually house sick or injured calves.

1.10 Bedding and Mats

Bedding can consist of organic materials such as chopped straw, wood chips or sawdust, or inorganic materials such as rubber mats. Special attention should be used when using sawdust. Sawdust should not be used to bed young calves under 12 weeks.

Use of bedding can provide a soft resting area for calves and can improve their comfort and reduce injuries. Bedding also provides thermal insulation. However, bedding which consists of organic material can be ingested by calves. While there is some evidence that this functions as roughage and reduce some undesirable behaviours such as pseudoruminating and licking, detrimental effects have also been found, including a greater incidence of abomasal ulcers, impacted rumen, bloat and bacterial infections.

1.10.1 Bedding should not include any hazardous material.

1.10.2 Soft rubber mats can be placed in the front half of individual stalls. This improves calf comfort, while maintaining a suitable degree of hygiene.

Producers are encouraged to monitor developments in the use of bedding.

1.11 Emergencies and Safety

1.11.1 All measures necessary to deal with unforeseen emergencies such as interruption of power supply and fire, should be incorporated within each building.

1.11.2 Emergency procedures should be posted and updated regularly and should include:

- evacuation procedures (for people and calves);

- a list of important telephone numbers; and

- emergency transportation and housing arrangements.

1.11.3 The installation of a suitable and effective smoke and fire detection system is recommended. Fire extinguishers rated at least 2A by the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada should be available in all buildings.

1.11.4 Emergency lighting systems are also recommended.

1.11.5 For the safety of calves and producers, safe disposal and storage of manure is essential.

1.12 Outside Straw Yard Pens

Outside straw yard pens have received considerable attention as a possible alternative rearing system. Due to variable adverse weather conditions in Canada this system needs further research to determine practical application.

Section 2 Feed and Water

Producers should be familiar with the basic nutritional requirements of their calves. The requirements for calves are outlined in the National Research Council's Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle.2 Information is available through provincial agricultural ministries and through feed manufacturers.

Producers should be fully aware of the feed products, recommended feeding and mixing procedures, and feeding programs selected for their calves.

All commercial feeds must comply with feed regulations as provided by the Feeds Act of Canada.
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2.1 Feeding

2.1.1 Drinking water and water for feed mixture should be potable water. Potable water is defined as ice free, uncontaminated water, fit for animal consumption. Producers should have their water analyzed twice per year. Producers should be prepared to immediately replace water or feed suspected of being harmful to the animals.

2.1.2 Producers should follow instructions and feeding directions as specified by the feed manufacturer.

2.1.3 If not fed ad libitum calves should be fed two or more times per day following a regular routine.

2.1.4 Contingency plans should be prepared and maintained to deal with unexpected interruptions of feed and water supply.

2.1.5 In group pen housing where calves are fed ad libitum by mechanical apparatus, the number of calves per feeding unit should not exceed manufacturers' recommended capacity.

2.1.6 Feed storage areas should be free of vermin and flies and have adequate space for different classes of feed.

2.2 Sanitation

2.2.1 For sanitation and proper blending of milk-based feed products, all facilities to house veal calves should be equipped with hot water.

2.2.2 Equipment for feeding and mixing should be thoroughly cleaned daily.

2.3 Dietary Fiber (Milk Fed Calves)

2.3.1 Because the type and quality of dietary fiber used may have significant health implications for calves, producers are encouraged to monitor developments in the use of dietary fiber.

2.4 Iron Supplementation

2.4.1 For the health and well-being of calves, close monitoring of iron supplementation is required.

Section 3 Calf Selection for Veal


The well-being of veal calves during rearing depends on the state of the calf's health on arrival at the veal operation. The calf's health will be affected by its post-natal nutrition and management, the period of transportation, including the time at the sale yard, and its management and nutrition on arrival. Calves should be selected carefully, and unhealthy or unfit calves should be rejected. Research has shown that calves are generally healthier when bought directly from a dairy operation than from auctions or sale yards.

3.1 Calves should be purchased from as few auction facilities as possible, with the preferred method of purchase being directly from a dairy operation.

3.2 Calves bought should be at least 1 week old.

3.3 When buying calves, the following should be verified:

3.4 Transportation from dairy to veal farm should be properly planned and completed as outlined in this Code of Practice (section 7) and in the Code of Practice for the Transport of Animals.

3.5 Regardless of time of transport from the dairy farm, holding time at the auction, and further transport to the veal farm, calves should not go without feed and water for more than 12 hours. top_24.gif (1072 bytes)

Section 4 Calf Arrival

4.1 Preparation of Facilities

4.1.1 Housing facilities to accommodate calves should be prepared before calves arrive on the producer's premises. All pens should be clean, disinfected, and dry. All equipment should be operating at a level necessary to maintain a suitable environment for the calves.

4.1.2 The capacity of the feeding, ventilation, and handling systems should be determined by the number of calves in the rearing program.

4.1.3 Individual and group pens should be kept clean and comfortable. To reduce the possibility of disease, ensure that manure does not spread from one pen to another.

4.1.4 Attendants should be aware of changes in behaviour, indicative of stress in calves, and take appropriate steps to alleviate discomfort.

4.1.5 Factors known to contribute to illness and abnormal behaviour in calves are fluctuating temperatures at calf level, ineffective ventilation, and nutritionally unbalanced diets. Whenever these factors are observed, steps must be taken immediately to correct the situation.

4.2 Identification

4.2.1 Identification devices must be light in weight, and be safe for the calf identified and for all other calves in the same pens. Identification devices should only be applied by a competent attendant.

4.3 Handling Newly Arrived Calves

4.3.1 Transportation to the veal operation should be planned so that the calves arrive when there are sufficient people available to unload them and care for them immediately.

4.3.2 Calves should be unloaded with care so as to avoid any undue stress. Use of electric prods is not acceptable.

4.3.3 A prophylactic plan should be prepared in consultation with a veterinarian. Such a plan should include: provision of electrolyte/minerals/vitamin mix on arrival, a program of vaccination and preventive medicine and suitable parasite control.

4.3.4 All calves should have sufficient opportunity to become familiar with feeders and waterers. Where necessary, assistance should be provided when calves are introduced to pail feeding.

4.3.5 Attention should be given to the calf's intake and to symptoms of discomfort, stress and illness.

Section 5 Personnel

5.1 All personnel working with calves should understand and accept their responsibility to prevent avoidable suffering of calves.

Producers should be satisfied that attendants are able to recognize behavioural symptoms that indicate discomfort or disease problems, and when to consult a veterinarian.

5.2 Working routines of attendants should be consistent and performed on a regular schedule.

Movement of people and equipment in or around pens should be accomplished in a manner that minimizes excitability of the calves. It is advisable that all attendants wear clothing of similar appearance and provide an easily perceivable signal before entering the area where the calves are housed.

5.3 Calves should not be frightened. Sudden or unusual movements or noises should be minimized.

5.4 Handling can be stressful to calves unless done skillfully. Throughout their life cycle, calves should be handled with care, gentleness, and patience.

5.5 Ignorance is no excuse for inhumane handling of livestock. Employers have an obligation to properly train employees on humane handling, equipment use, and livestock care.

5.6 Use of electric prods is unacceptable.

When animals are fearful of people, their welfare and productivity can be reduced. Studies show long-term stress and reduced productivity in farm animals where they show fear of people (e.g. shying away or vigorous avoidance) compared to farms where the animals approach people confidently. The way calves are handled will affect how fearful they become. Scientific studies show that calves can tell different people apart and will be frightened of people who handle them roughly.

Consistent gentle handling during movement of animals, feeding and care will reduce the chances that calves will become frightened of people. Calves can be uncoordinated and are fearful of novelty. It is important to recognize these limitations when moving and handling animals. Use of electric prods is unacceptable and calves should never be hit or kicked.

Section 6 Health Management

A basic requirement of a successful veal operation is good preventative health management. A sound health program relies on a valid veterinary - client - patient relationship.

6.1 All barns housing calves should be checked a minimum of four times daily. Arrangement of pens should permit easy visual inspection of all areas and all housed calves.

6.2 Attendants should regularly check all calves for evidence of disease, injury and external parasites. If external parasites are detected, corrective treatment should be introduced as soon as possible.

6.3 Appropriate corrective therapy should be initiated immediately. Calves that are severely debilitated should be humanely destroyed (Appendix A). Carcasses of dead calves must be removed immediately and disposed of according to provincial or federal legislation.

6.4 Chronically ill calves should be isolated in a separate room or treatment area. Air movement should not flow from ill calves toward healthy calves.

6.5 It is essential to keep individual calf health records which detail body temperature, diagnosis and treatments.

6.6 It is mandatory for some diseases to be reported under federal and/or provincial legislation. If a calf is suspected of having such a disease a veterinarian must be advised immediately. When a reportable disease has been confirmed, the producer must immediately introduce the appropriate measures required. See Appendix B for the list of reportable diseases.

6.7 All equipment should be inspected daily and properly cleaned and maintained. Insure proper storage and care of animal health products.

6.8 Calves should be protected from possible disease transmission from other animals or birds. Pest control on calf premises should be routinely practiced.

6.9 Personnel should avoid contact with calves from outside premises. If this is unavoidable, it is recommended that personnel be provided with a change of clothing and a foot bath or foot covering.

6.10 Visitors to the barns should be kept to a minimum. Visitors should wear protective clothing and move and talk quietly.

6.11 Proper attention and care should be given to the use and disposal of needles, syringes and medical or chemical compounds that could cause or contribute to environmental damage or danger to humans, calves, and/or other animals on the premises.

6.12 When restraint is required it should be minimal in degree and time, and it must not hurt or injure the calf.

6.13 Any treatment must be done in such a manner as to minimize pain and discomfort to the calf.

6.14 Medical treatments and vaccinations used must be based upon veterinary advice. Particular attention must be paid to dosage (based on body weight), duration of treatment, accepted drug compatibilities, and withdrawal time before slaughter. Always read the label.

6.15 Personnel administering medication to the calf should be competent, properly trained. When medication is indicated, recommended treatment levels must be followed. Proper withdrawal times must be observed in accordance with the Food and Drugs Act (Health Canada) and the Feeds Act(Canadian Food Inspection Agency). Check labels for withdrawal times. Records of treatments and medications used must be kept.

6.16 Attendants need to be able to evaluate the condition of their herd and the signs and symptoms of common calf illnesses. They should be aware of when a calf is distressed or ill and determine when professional help is required. Veal owners must ensure that attendants have this knowledge.

6.17 Producers are encouraged to take livestock medicine courses or other courses appropriate to the provincial requirements.

6.18 Iron deficiency anemia can be a problem in milk fed veal calves due to the low concentration of this mineral in milk. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin which allows red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body. Calves affected with iron deficiency anemia are unthrifty with loss of appetite. Clinical signs include pale mucous membranes, light coloured feces and laboured breathing. Calves with heavy sucking lice infestations are more prone to anemia due to loss of blood.

Clinical diagnosis of this condition may be confirmed by assessing blood hemoglobin concentrations. These tests may be done by a licensed veterinarian or a qualified veterinary technician.

Iron deficiency anemia may be prevented by insuring that the diet of veal calves contains 25-30 mg of soluble iron per kg of dietary dry matter. Iron may also be supplemented via parenteral injection however it is difficult to determine accurate dosage in calves. Those calves affected with louse infections should be treated accordingly. Consultation by a licensed veterinarian may be required for additional recommendations.
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Section 7 Transportation

7.1 Definitions

7.1.1 Vehicle: any form of transport including trucks, trailers, railway cars, ferries, and aircraft.

7.1.2 Container: a box or crate that is constructed for the shipment of calves and which can be moved from one means of transportation to another.

7.1.3 Distressed animal: An animal that is in a state of pain or marked discomfort, such as that caused by illness, lameness, injury, heat stress, or deprivation of feed or water. Some distressed animals are unfit to be transported. Others can be transported providing special precautions are taken.

7.1.4 Unfit animal: An animal that is sick, injured, disabled, fatigued, or for any other reason cannot be moved without causing it avoidable suffering must not be transported unless special precautions are taken (see section 7, 7.9).

7.1.5 Non-ambulatory: Any animal that is unable to stand without assistance or to move without being dragged or carried. Downerand downed animal are terms used in reference to a non-ambulatory animal.

7.1.6 Loading density: The amount of space required per animal, or the weight of animals per unit of space in a vehicle or container during transportation.

7.2 Transportation - General

7.2.1 Calves less than 7 days of age should not be transported.

7.2.2 Transport personnel should be properly instructed in and knowledgeable of the basic facts of animal welfare and should be skillful in handling calves under varying climatic conditions. Responsibility for training personnel rests with the employer.

7.2.3 Transport personnel are responsible for the welfare of the calves for the entire stage of transport.

7.2.4 Truck drivers should start, drive, and stop their trucks smoothly to prevent animals from being thrown off their feet.

7.2.5 Infliction of physical injury to calves is unacceptable.

7.2.6 Each load should be checked and realigned, if necessary, shortly after departure, and should be checked periodically during transport.

7.2.7 The transportation of calves from point of origin to final destination should be by a route that will minimize transport time.

7.2.8 Ignorance is no excuse for inhumane handling of livestock. Employers have an obligation to properly train employees on humane handling, equipment use, and livestock care.

7.3 Loading and Unloading

Calves should be loaded or unloaded in a manner which avoids injury and suffering.

7.3.1 In a new situation or location, all normal, healthy animals are alert and investigative. Every change or disturbance in their surroundings, such as noises, breezes, movement of objects, and flashes of light, should be avoided, as calves in unfamiliar situations are easily frightened.

7.3.2 Loading and unloading zones should be so situated as to be safeguarded against the spread of infections. Precautions should be taken to prevent calves that are in the loading zone or that have been loaded onto the truck from escaping and returning to the building.

7.3.3 Use of canvas slappers and other devices to move calves should be kept to a minimum to avoid excitement or injury to calves. Use of electric prods is unacceptable.

7.3.4 Ramps should be used; tilting the box of a dump truck is totally unacceptable.

7.3.5 Ramps and alleyways should not have sharp turns that impede movement or could cause injury to the calves. Ideally, loading and unloading alleyways and ramps should be curved, have solid walls, and be properly lit. They should not be steeper than 7 cm/m (2.5 in/y). Loading and unloading docks should be level with the truck in order to permit the calves to step safely onto or off the truck.

7.3.6 Ramps and chutes should be strong, provide safe footing, and have sides high enough to prevent calves from falling or jumping off.

7.3.7 No gap should exist between the ramp, its sides, and the vehicle.

7.3.8 Doors should be sufficiently wide to permit calves to pass through them easily without bruising or injury.

7.3.9 Excessive use of ear tags must be avoided. Back tags should be used for short term or temporary identification.

7.4 Vehicles

7.4.1 Any vehicle used for transporting calves should have sides that are secure, strong, and high enough to prevent the calves from jumping, falling, or being pushed out.

7.4.2 Provision must be made for drainage or absorption of urine.

7.4.3 Vehicle design and construction should prevent protrusion of any part of a calf from the vehicle.

7.4.4 Vehicles used for transporting calves must suitably protect the calves from adverse weather (see section 7, 7.10 and 7.11).

7.4.5 Calves should be loaded only into vehicles that are clean and disinfected and that contain suitable fresh bedding material. Calves should not be bedded in shavings or sawdust. If they ingest this type of bedding material they will experience digestive problems.

7.4.6 Vehicles and containers should be cleaned and disinfected after each shipment to prevent the spread of disease. Cleaning and disinfecting facilities should be provided at unloading points during all seasons.

7.4.7 Vehicle ramps should have sufficient footing to ensure stability for the calves and operators. The slope should not be greater than 7 cm/m (2.55 in/y).
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7.5 Space Requirements

7.5.1 Calves must not be crowded in a way that causes injury or suffering. They must be provided with sufficient floor space and headroom to allow them to stand in their natural position without touching the ceiling or roof. Recommended loading densities are listed in Appendix C.

7.5.2 Loading density should be reduced by about 20% for trips expected to take longer than 8 hours from the time of loading to the time of unloading. (see section 7, 7.11.3)

7.6 Segregation

7.6.1 Calves of substantially different sizes must be separated from one another.

7.7 Protecting Calves During Transit

7.7.1 In the event of vehicle breakdowns, traffic accidents, or other delays during transit, appropriate action is necessary to ensure the well-being of the calves (Appendix D).

7.7.2 Vehicles and containers used for transporting calves should be well constructed. They should have secure, well-padded fittings, be free from bolt heads, angles, and other projections, and be suitably ventilated. (see section 7, 7.10 and 7.11). 7.7.3 Vehicle floors that do not have proper footing for the calves should be covered with straw or other bedding material and sand for safe and secure footholds (see section 7, 7.10 and 7.11). Bob calves should not be bedded in wood shavings or sawdust because if they ingest this type of bedding material they will experience digestive problems. Sand should be used in trucks where there is inadequate footing. Sand containing fertilizer, ash, or calcium chloride should never be used.

7.8 Feed, Water and Rest for Calves in Transit

7.8.1 During transit, calves should be provided with suitable feed and water at intervals not to exceed 18 hours or in the case of young calves requiring a special diet the time interval should not exceed 12 hours.

7.8.2 If a journey is to last longer than 18 hours, calves must be fed and watered within 5 hours prior to loading.

7.8.3 Calves that are unloaded for feed, water, and rest must be placed in a suitably covered shelter, provided with enough feed and drinkable water, and rested for at least 5 hours.

7.8.4 Any person transporting calves is obliged to plan long-distance trips taking into consideration the availability and location of facilities where calves may be unloaded, fed, watered, and cared for in a humane manner with protection from extreme weather conditions.

7.8.5 The following criteria must be met when calves are being transported by ferries:

7.8.6 Young calves that require special feed should be provided with such feed, as well as water, at least each 12 hours.

7.9 Distressed Calves

Distressed calves must not be loaded for transport.

Prior to transport, animals should be in good physical condition and health. A distressed animal must not be loaded unless special provisions are made to ensure the loading, transport and unloading will not cause additional suffering or injury. The animal should be examined on the premise by a veterinarian. If the carcass is not salvageable, the animal should be euthanised. If the carcass could be of value, the animal should be rendered unconscious, slaughtered, and the carcass immediately moved to a slaughter facility for processing, subject to provincial regulations. In jurisdictions where on-farm slaughter is not permissible, the animal should be euthanised if loading and transportation without further suffering is not possible.

7.9.1 If, during transit, a calf becomes unfit for further travel, it must be taken to the nearest appropriate place for treatment.

7.9.2 Except in cold weather, a distressed calf that can be transported should be segregated from the other calves. To keep the distressed calf warm in cold weather, it may be placed in a compartment with half the normal number of calves.

7.9.3 Distressed calves should be loaded or unloaded in such a way as to cause them the least suffering.

7.9.4 When loading and unloading trucks, distressed calves should be put on last and taken off first.

7.9.5 Calves that are either unfit or distressed should be reported to the plant or stockyard receiver before being unloaded.

7.10 Precautions in Cold Weather

7.10.1 During winter travel, openings that allow drafts or freezing rain and snow to enter the vehicle box should be covered.

7.10.2 Weather conditions should be observed and ventilation adjusted accordingly. Too much cold air entering the vehicle could cause the calves to suffer from frostbite, but not enough air could cause suffocation. Both the calves and ventilation should be checked during transit at least every 2 hours.

7.10.3 The metal floors of vehicle boxes should be suitably bedded and sides covered with wood or other suitable material. Frigid bare metal will rapidly freeze the skin of a calf on contact. Wet bedding tends to freeze and should be removed from the truck after each trip.

7.11 Precautions in Hot and Humid Weather

7.11.1 During transit, calves must be protected from direct sunlight, high temperatures, and high humidity. These weather conditions can cause breathing difficulties, stress, and death.

7.11.2 The feeding time for calves before the start of the journey is important. Calves should not be fed immediately before transportation (except as in section 7, 7.8).

7.11.3 Loading density should be reduced by about 10% if temperature is above 16o C; cutbacks of up to 25% should be considered if the weather is extremely hot and humid. (Appendix C)

7.11.4 Suitable airflow throughout the vehicle should be provided to keep calves comfortable.

7.11.5 Loading and unloading the calves should be accomplished promptly. Any stops during transit should be of short duration to prevent rapid buildup of heat inside the truck.

7.11.6 When a closed truck is used, ventilation can be provided by leaving any slats or openings on the sides uncovered. When an open-topped truck is used, the top of the vehicle should be covered with a tarpaulin.

7.11.7 In extreme weather handle calves carefully as exercise increases stress problems. Wide temperature fluctuations between day and night also increase stress.

7.12 Transportation Stress

Care is essential when forced movement of a distressed calf is necessary. In order to avoid over-exertion, every animal should be treated with extreme patience.

7.12.1 Allow calves that have over-exerted to rest.

7.12.2 Every effort should be made to ensure that calves are consigned, sold, and delivered from no more than one sale facility. Every effort should be made to keep the distance to be traveled and the traveling time to a minimum.

7.13 Assembly and Sales Yard Facilities

7.13.1 All provincial and federal acts and regulations governing all aspects of auction markets must always take precedence. Personnel working with calves should be instructed in acceptable, humane handling techniques. Educational material should be developed to ensure that employees are aware of existing legislation. Calves should be moved through facilities with patience and as quietly as possible to reduce stress and minimize the risk of injury.

7.13.2 Ramps and alleyways used for unloading calves should provide good footing. An ideal ramp or alleyway for unloading purposes should be straight or curved, have solid walls, and be no steeper than 7 cm/m (2.5 in/y).

7.13.3 All floors of pens, alleyways, and chutes must be paved, properly drained, scored or treated to prevent slipping, and gently graded to provide good footing. The slope of the floor in individual holding units should not be less than 2% or more than 4% (2-4 cm/m). Drainage grates, where required, should be at the side of the pens, alleyways, or chutes.

7.13.4 Alleyways, loading ramps, unloading ramps, and the entrance to transport vehicles should be well lit.

7.13.5 All facilities must be covered and properly ventilated, and calves must be protected against extreme weather conditions. All assembly yards must be equipped to provide drinking water for calves.

7.13.6 Calves kept for more than 12 hours must be fed and watered.

7.13.7 The provision of gates to prevent calves from reversing direction is highly desirable.

7.13.8 Assembly and sales yard facilities should be properly maintained and must be free from any objects such as protruding nails, bolts, or sharp corners that could injure the calves or cause them discomfort.

7.13.9 Assembly and sales yard facilities should be constructed so as to prevent calves from slipping or falling and from injuring themselves. These areas should be regularly cleaned, disinfected, and supplied with fresh bedding.

7.13.10 Distressed calves must be segregated from healthy calves. Distressed calves should be kept comfortable and provided with veterinary attention and medical treatment as needed.

7.13.11 Distressed calves that will obviously not recover should be humanely destroyed as soon as possible, in accordance with the applicable laws for that jurisdiction.

7.13.12 Pens should contain sufficient space to enable all the calves to rest at the same time.

7.13.13 Calves should be unloaded, penned, held, and loaded in such a way that they are exposed to a minimum of discomfort and excitement.

7.13.14 Use of electric prods is unacceptable.

7.13.15 Excessive use of ear tags must be avoided. Back tags should be used for short-term or temporary identification.

Section 8 Processors

8.1 General

8.1.1 Operators of all slaughtering facilities are fully responsible for humane handling of calves on their premises.

8.1.2 It is the responsibility of inspectors under both federal and provincial legislation to monitor the humane handling of calves.

8.1.3 Inhumane handling and treatment such as overcrowding, careless exposure to inclement weather, or other circumstances that result in unnecessary suffering, should be reported immediately to both plant management and inspection authorities.

8.2 Unloading

8.2.1 Unloading areas should be maintained in a sanitary condition.

8.2.2 Unloading facilities must provide secure footing and not cause injury to animals.

8.2.3 Vehicles and docks must always be aligned. To accommodate vehicles of varying heights, provide unloading docks of different heights or adjustable ramps. There must be no unprotected gaps between the vehicle and the platform (bottom and sides).

8.2.4 It is preferable to have a flat landing surface at ramp or dock level.

8.2.5 Unloading should take place as soon as possible after arrival of the transportation vehicle. The packer, the trucker, and the producer should consult to prevent unnecessary delays.

8.2.6 Calves may balk at contrasting shadows, bright spots, and changes in floor surface. Receiving areas should have adequate and uniform lighting.

8.2.7 The preferred means of handling downers (animals unable to move even with assistance) is to shoot/stun them on the vehicle, remove them from the vehicle, and bleed them prior to regaining consciousness. Otherwise, downers may be immediately off-loaded by means of a stretcher, cage, or similar equipment, if properly constructed and if the design of vehicle and size of the animal permit them to be moved without causing undue pain or suffering.

8.2.8 The dragging of conscious animals is not permitted.
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8.3 Handling

8.3.1 Calves should be moved through facilities patiently and as quietly as possible to reduce stress and risk of injury and to make the job safer and more efficient. Sufficient time should be allowed to keep pace with plant requirements without having to put pressure on either the calves or their handlers.

8.3.2 Calves are affected by contrasts between light and dark areas; therefore, care should be taken to ensure that artificial or natural light does not cast shadows across the path of animals. The presence of a floor drain also causes a contrast and it is recommended that in new or renovated facilities, floor drains are located in such a way as to minimize the need for animals to cross them.

8.3.3 Electric prods must never be used on calves. The use of canvas slappers or similar devices should be kept to a minimum.

8.3.4 Calves should be segregated from other species of feed animals. Every animal that is a potential danger to other calves should immediately be segregated.

8.4 Alleys and Chutes

8.4.1 All floors of alleys and chutes should be hard-surfaced, properly drained, and scored or treated to prevent animals from slipping; floors must be graded gently to provide secure footing.

8.4.2 Calves feel trapped and will balk if they see a dead end. Calves should be able to see one pathway of escape ahead.

8.4.3 The provision of solid sides for chutes and ramps is helpful.

8.4.4 All ramps and chutes should have high enough sides to prevent animals from escaping, falling, or jumping off.

8.4.5 Protruding objects, such as nails and bolts, that might cause injury must be avoided.

8.5 Holding Facilities

8.5.1 Sufficient pens should be provided to prevent overcrowding, to permit necessary segregation of animals, and to enable all animals to lie down.

8.5.2 Floors of pens should be hard-surfaced, properly drained, scored or treated to prevent slipping, and graded gently to provide good footing. The slope of the floor in individual holding units should be between 2% and 4% (2-4 cm/m). Drainage grates, where present, should be at the side of the pens.

8.5.3 Holding facilities should protect calves suitably from the elements.

8.5.4 Every holding area should be suitably ventilated to minimize distress to the animals and excessive accumulation of odours and condensation.

8.5.5 Holding pens should provide animals with access to clean water. Water heaters should be provided to prevent drinking water from freezing.

8.5.6 Calves held for more than 24 hours should be provided with suitable feed in a bedded area that has sufficient room to allow all calves to lie down at the same time. Feed and water equipment should be placed and designed to give all calves ready access and to prevent contamination. Young calves requiring a special diet must be fed if held longer than 12 hours.

8.6 Special Handling of Injured, Sick and Disabled Calves

8.6.1 Calves that are sick, injured, or disabled must immediately be separated from healthy animals.

8.6.2 Equipment must be provided for the conveyance of non-ambulatory animals within the plant. Dragging of conscious animals is not acceptable.

8.6.3 Priority must be given to the slaughter of injured or disabled calves.

8.7 Stunning and Slaughter

8.7.1 The selection and training of personnel are the most important factors in ensuring that slaughter is humane.

8.7.2 No calf shall be slaughtered without first being rendered unconscious by an experienced person using an approved, humane method as listed in the Meat Inspection Regulations.

8.7.3 Animals that are slaughtered in accordance with established religious laws, without stunning, should be properly restrained and the slaughter must be carried out by qualified, experienced persons using the proper equipment. This is the only permitted exception to the regulations. (NOTE: Hitting on the head with a blunt instrument is no longer an approved method of rendering a calf unconscious).

8.7.4 Hoisting of conscious calves is not permitted.

8.7.5 Stunning pens should be designed and constructed to permit easy, safe and reliable stunning.

8.7.6 It is essential that stunning equipment be well maintained and used only by trained operators. The procedure should render the animal unconscious immediately.

Section 9 Veal Research

The Canadian Veal industry recognizes the importance of research on issues related to the welfare of veal calves. The industry will continue to support research and the technology transfer of methods that enhance production and calf welfare.

As new technologies develop and research is completed recommendations for this Code will continue to evolve.

Priorities for research relevant to this Code include:

1. Assessment and improvement of handling/ mixing/transport procedures and equipment to minimize stress. Determination of optimum loading densities.

2. Development of economically efficient group housing systems resulting in low incidence of mortality and disease. Determination of optimum pen designs, stocking densities and group sizes.

3. Methods of environmental enrichment to improve comfort, and health and reduce behavioural problems e.g. improved flooring and bedding, improved feeding systems.

4. Assessment of the benefits or disadvantages of increased roughage intake.

Appendix A Guidelines to Euthanasia of Calves by Firearms



Mature Cattle

The head should be secure in a chute or by halter and shank to a solid structure. Food can be placed in front of the animal. The firearm is held at right angles to the skull and aimed at a point 2/3 of the way up the forehead at a point intersecting imaginary lines drawn between the back of the ears and the corners of the eyes (Figures 1 and 2). It may be easier to shoot slightly to the side of the ridge that runs down the centre of the face.


Calves can be handled in the same manner as mature cattle but the aim of the firearm should be squarely on the midline of the forehead slightly lower than in mature cattle (Figure 3).

Source: Longair, J. (Al), Finley, G., Laniel, M-A., Mackay, C., Mould, K., Olfert, E.D., Rowsell, H., and Preston, A. 1991. Guidelines for euthanasia of domestic animals by firearms. Can. Vet. J. (32) December.

Appendix B Reportable Diseases

The following are reportable diseases, for the purpose of the current section 2 of the Health of Animals Act, which may affect cattle:

Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Reportable Diseases Regulations, February 1991

Appendix D Emergency Procedures During Transportation

Please post in trucks

Emergency procedures to be followed by drivers in the event of a breakdown, an accident, or any other delay during transit.

1. Telephone home office immediately to report the emergency situation.

2. During business hours, telephone the nearest slaughterhouse as well as the manager of the receiving plant or shipper and receiver.

3. Telephone the receiver. (Attach night telephone numbers).

4. If necessary, arrange for the use of another vehicle to move the load to a sheltered area or to the point of destination.

5. During extremely hot or cold weather, seek shelter for the load until the emergency situation is over.

6. Seek the advice of a veterinarian in the event of distressed or seriously injured calves.

7. Do something! Use common sense. The comfort and safety of the animals must be kept in mind at all times.










Adapted from: Procedures Bulletin, Ontario Trucking Association

Appendix E Participants

Representatives of the following organizations participated in this Code review. However, the Code does not necessarily have the unequivocal endorsement of any agency or individual.

Organization and Representative

CARC Canada Committee on Animals, J. R. Dalrymple (Chair)

Farm Animal Councils/Meat Processing, M. Cooper (Secretary)

Canadian Meat Council, L. Campbell

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, F. Rodenburg, J. Ripley

Provincial Governments, P. Lawlis

Ontario Veal Association, J. Walton, I. Foster

La Fédération des producteurs de bovins du Québec, R. Ledoux, P. Lucini, A. Doyon

Canadian Society of Animal Science, J. Rushen

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, A. M. de Passille

Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Animal Health Division, G. Doonan

Meat and Poultry Products Division, I. Kirk

Dairy Farmers of Canada, P. MacLean

Canadian Council on Animal Care, J. Wong

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, B. Manns

Administration/Coordination was provided by:

Canadian Agri-Food Research Council (CARC)
Heritage House, Building 60, Central Experimental Farm
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C6
Tel: 613-234-2325
Fax: 613-234-2330

Appendix F - References and Sources of Information

Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 59 Camelot Drive, Nepean, Ontario K1A 0Y9

Compendium of Medicating Ingredient Brochure (CMIB), Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Food Inspection Directorate, 59 Camelot Drive, Nepean, Ontario K1A 0Y9

J. officiel des Communautés européennes Directive, 97/2/CE du Conseil, le 20 janvier, 1997

Longair, J. (Al), Finley, G., Laniel, M-A., Mackay, C., Mould, K., Olfert, E.D. Rowsell, H., and Preston, A. 1991.

Guidelines for euthanasia of domestic animals by firearms. Can. Vet. J. (32) December.

1National Farm Building Handbook, Canadian Government Publishing Centre, Supply and Services Canada, Hull, Québec K1A 0S9

2Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle - 7th Edition, Printing and Publishing Office, National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N. W., Washington, D.C. 20148 (202) 334-3313

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