Source: National Farm Animal Care Council
The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) are pleased to announce the launch of the public comment period for the draft update to the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle. The public comment period allows all stakeholders to provide their input on the proposed updates to the 2009 Code.
The draft Code and the online platform to submit comments are now accessible at: www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/dairy-cattle. All comments must be submitted through the online platform. The public comment period closes January 27, 2022. The Code Development Committee will consider the submitted comments after the close of the comment period, and the final Code of Practice will be released in 2022.
Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals are the result of Canada’s unique consensus-based approach, which brings together all relevant stakeholders with an interest in animal care standards.
“Canadian dairy farmers are dedicated to providing excellent care to their animals, and the proposed Code is about updating our high standards in animal welfare,” said David Wiens, a Manitoba dairy farmer and Chair of the Code Development Committee. “Dairy farmers’ work is always evolving to reflect the latest best practices rooted in science. We welcome perspectives from our fellow Canadians to help guide the continuous improvement and optimization of farming practices.”
A Scientific Committee report summarizing research conclusions on priority welfare topics can be found alongside the draft Code and should be reviewed prior to making a submission. A critically important resource throughout the project, this peer-reviewed report is referenced in the draft Code of Practice at least 80 times.
“I am particularly proud to be part of this process,” said Dr. Elsa Vasseur, Co-Chair of the Scientific Committee and NSERC Industrial Research Chair. “While not easy, this unique step-by-step approach, the strong reliance on scientific literature, and the openness to public consultation, then repeating the exercise again to respond to those comments, makes the commitment so worth it. Getting to the public consultation is an extraordinary achievement by all stakeholders.”
“An immense amount of work has gone into this update—from reviewing the research to discussions about animal care and feasibility of different management practices. I look forward to the comments and learning if we were successful in addressing priority issues,” added Dr. Kelly Barratt, who represents veterinarians for the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. “I went into this process hoping that our work will have a positive impact on the animals in our care and that I could be proud of our progress. I have not been disappointed.”
Once finalized, the updated Code will promote sound management and animal care practices through recommendations and requirements for housing, feeding, handling, and other husbandry practices. DFC initiated the update to the 2009 dairy cattle Code in January 2019, utilizing NFACC’s Code development process.
“I commend dairy farmers for engaging in this important Code update and for their continued investment in dairy cattle welfare research, which has served as a basis for committee deliberations,” said Dr. Jeff Rushen, a retired dairy cattle welfare researcher who represents Humane Canada. “Canada’s Code process allows for the hard but very important conversations we need to have about how best to bring meaningful improvements to animal welfare.”
The update is led by a 19-person Code Development Committee that includes producers from across Canada, animal welfare advocacy and enforcement representatives, researchers, processors, veterinarians, and government.
The dairy cattle Code is one of four Codes of Practice being developed as part of a multi-year NFACC project. Codes of Practice serve as our national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices. It is important that Codes be scientifically informed, implementable by producers, and reflect societal expectations for responsible farm animal care.
Funded in part by the Government of Canada under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriAssurance Program, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative.