Amendment Changes Coming Into Effect February 20, 2020 by: 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.

The HAR Part XII applies to everyone that is, directly and indirectly, involved in the transport of animals. This includes owners, producers, buyers, transporter, handlers, processors, assembly centres, exporters/importers, and rest stations.

The most notable changes are the changes to the maximum transit time permitted before livestock must be off-loaded for feed, water, and rest. Transit time starts when feed and water are removed before transport and includes the time it takes to load, transport, and unload animals. An additional change is that requirements are more out-come based, training is outlined, and they align more with international standards.

It is required that an animal must be fit for the intended transport process before transport begins. Animals must be monitored throughout transport to ensure that the animal remains fit during transit. Compromised animals may be transported without feed, water, and rest for a maximum of 12 hours. Previously, there were no specified transport times for compromised animals.

A compromised animal is one that has a condition that impairs their ability to tolerate transport. However, compromised animals may be transported with special provisions for short distances to the nearest place, other than an assembly centre, where they can receive care or be humanely killed without causing unnecessary suffering.

Special provisions for compromised animals include loading, confining, transporting and unloading an animal in a manner that will minimize stress and discomfort; providing additional bedding; isolation, taking measures to prevent hypothermia; and only transporting the animal directly to the nearest place, other than an assembly centre, for local humane killing or care.

It should be noted that a compromised animal can rapidly deteriorate and become unfit.  An animal is unfit for transport, or continued transport, if it has a condition that would lead to suffering during transport and related confinement. Animals that are determined to be unfit before loading are prohibited from being loaded, and those that are identified as unfit during transport must be taken for prompt care or humane killing.