Source: National Farm Animal Care Council Code of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals
Like other Codes in development, work on the Livestock and Poultry Transportation Code of Practice is continuing, albeit under conditions that were completely unexpected as recently as a few months ago. Social distancing protocols resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have halted the ability for in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. Ironically, this comes on the heels of recent acknowledgement of the importance of bringing groups together for the first time in a face-to-face environment.
Fortunately, the Sheep/Goat Working Group (WG) was able to squeeze in its first meeting at the end of February in Ottawa, when what appeared to be the biggest concern was the winter weather that ended the meeting early and foiled many travel plans. The Poultry Catching and Transportation WG met over the same two days, and both WGs were able to use the opportunity to select their representatives to the Code Development Committee (CDC).
With those two picks, all eight species-specific WGs are now represented on the CDC, which has now been fully populated. The 23-member CDC also includes livestock and poultry transporters; researchers; processors; and individuals representing animal welfare advocacy and enforcement, livestock markets, veterinarians and the federal government.
Normally, the next step would be to convene the CDC’s inaugural in-person meeting over two days. As that is no longer an option, the Transport Code Management team is currently organizing a series of online meetings that when combined together, will take the place of the in-person meeting. While this is not ideal, the team is also working on developing strategies to facilitate sessions that are productive, inclusive, efficient, and effective. The first CDC “meeting” is scheduled to take place in June.
Two WGs are also in the position of having to migrate to online meeting platforms for their first meetings. The Equine WG had tentatively scheduled its first meeting for May in Calgary; however, with travel on-hold, efforts will soon be underway to reschedule to an online format. The Intermediary Sites WG is nearly fully populated. Once complete, online meetings will be scheduled for summer. This WG will draft content that covers the care of animals at three primary types of sites at which animals are temporarily unloaded, and that are considered to be part of the animal transportation continuum: sales/auction yards; assembly yards; and feed/water/rest stations.
In the meantime, the Poultry Catching and Transport WG, the Hatchery Transport WG, and the Bison/CervidWG continue to hold online meetings, while the remaining species-specific WGs (Cattle; Pigs; Sheep/Goats;Mink/Fox/Rabbit) have temporarily halted work while they wait for the CDC to draft common content, after which they will reconvene to tease out animal-specific content where deemed appropriate.