Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Olivier Berreville: Codes of practice fail to protect Canada’s animals from abuse and suffering

February 28, 2012, Georgia Straight

Following the inhumane killing of up to 100 sled dogs in Whistler nearly two years ago, the B.C. government recently announced the creation of the Sled Dog Code of Practice, which sets out basic standards of care for the animals. The codes continue to allow numerous abusive practices, including sustained periods of tethering and the use of shotguns as a form of “euthanasia”. The minimal standards also fail to come with funding for actual enforcement. Because of this, the codes are raising the discontent of animal-protection organizations and the general public.

While criticism of the Sled Dog Code of Practice is justified, hundreds of millions of other animals rely on weak, voluntary, and, by and large, unenforced codes of practice for their care and protection. These animals are the 600 million animals raised for food each year in Canada.

Under the codes of practice for animals raised for food—dairy cows, for example—can have their calves torn from them within minutes of their birth as the cow’s lucrative milk is destined for human palates, not to sustain the cow’s own newborn. Distressed by this routine procedure, the mothers often pace and bellow endlessly while searching in vain for their calves. Confined alone and without comfort and care from their mothers, calves often suffer from diarrhea, ulcers, pneumonia, or other ailments.

The codes of practice also allow sows (mother pigs) to live lives of intense confinement, deprivation, and heartache within gestation crates. Forced to exist in these barren concrete and metal stalls, which do not even allow the animals to turn around, sows will have every one of their piglets torn away within weeks of their birth. They frequently develop stereotypies, such as repetitive head-bobbing and bar-chewing, from the social deprivation and chronic frustration. After two to three years of this misery, most sows are shipped to slaughterhouses in the U.S. which do not have antidragging legislation. As a result, animals too sick, diseased, or injured to stand are often painfully dragged to their deaths.

Chickens are not excluded from the suffering by the codes of practice. Egg-laying hens, who enjoy dust baths and have a strong drive to build nests for their eggs, are allowed to be confined in metal battery cages, in crowded and barren conditions which prevent them from even fully stretching their wings.

Painful mutilations without anesthesia or analgesia are also allowed. For instance, workers can routinely slice into the sensitive skin of male piglets and rip out their testicles with their fingers to castrate the animals. They can also burn off the sensitive tips of chickens’ and turkeys’ beaks, and cut or burn off the ends of their toes, inflicting acute pain but also often leaving the animals with chronic pain.

Codes of practice for Canada’s farm animals not only offer little to no protection against numerous cruel practices, they are also either unheard of or ignored. At a recent dairy conference I attended, producers were asked to raise their hands if they were aware of the codes of practice for dairy cows; only a few hands were raised. Of those who knew of the presence of the codes, none had actually read them.

To add further insult to injury, the minimum standards set out in the codes for farm animals are voluntary in most Canadian provinces. (While they have been codified into law in Manitoba, they are rarely to never enforced.)

Canadians are justly upset at the lack of protection afforded sled dogs by the newly announced Code of Practice for Sled Dogs. We can only hope that this concern will extend to the hundreds of millions of farm animals languishing under similar minimal, unenforced codes in Canada.

Until we, as a society, recognize the abysmal way in which we are failing Canada’s farm animals, this broken system will continue, condemning hundreds of millions of animals to lives of systemic abuse and suffering.

Olivier Berreville is the scientific advisor for Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals

Carmina Gooch Thu, 2012-03-01 10:37 Farm animals suffer and die horrendous deaths daily. There’s no way to deny it. Maintaining a culture of cruelty, persecution, oppression, and injustice has far-reaching social consequences. Wake up people, there’s no excuse or justification for what we’re doing and it all comes at our own peril.

Read more on our animal law page: Governments and SPCA failing all animals; Fraser Valley Auction violations; rampant abuses; taking action; letters

February 9, 2012 There is no government agency overseeing the well-being of animals used for agriculture, entertainment or commercial purposes in B.C. despite a rise in cruelty investigations. Government must respond and make it a priority to protect our animals. We have sent them the following: Australia's Labor Party has voted to establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare.

National Farm Animal Care Council Report 2011

February 6, 2012 Maple Lodge Ain't Your Grandmother's Farm

March 28, 2014  Maple Lodge Farms ordered to spend $1 million after chicken cruelty conviction

March 27, 2015 Hidden camera investigation reveals chicken slaughterhouse practices

Comment: It’s corporate greed and profits at all costs. Unless consumers rise up and demand change, industry won’t respond. And don’t expect government to look out for the public’s best interests. 

April 8, 2015 Animal rights groups files ‘false claims’ complaint against Maple Lodge Farms

"In the race to the absolute bottom, animal agriculture wins, hands down, as the US industry that imposes the highest economic costs on society across the board." – Meatonomics Canada is no different. The industry has a huge appetite for deception. Don’t buy into it. Go vegan today!  

June 12, 2017 Undercover video shows ‘sadistic’ animal abuse on B.C. farms: animal rights group

June 13, 2017 comment: The graphic undercover video shot by Mercy for Animals depicts multiple workers throwing, hitting, dismembering and killing chickens, and forcing the birds into violent sexual acts with each other. The law must seek proper justice (although no punishment will be fitting) for the tortured and voiceless victims of this most vile crime!!  

We can all take action to help prevent such abuses within the industry, and as consumers, our power is tremendous if we simply keep animal products off our plates. If there’s no demand, there’s no supply. The video: Chicken Torture

Lilydale faces charges for transporting chickens in freezing weather; a repeat offender, guilty & fined $160,000, Maple Lodge Farms conviction; chicken processing plant, Hallmark sued, MFA at Abbotsford plant

June 26, 2018 Video footage shows chickens caged with dead, buried in manure at Abbotsford egg farms. (CTV News, PETA)

Many were dead and dying, left to either drown in their own excrement or die of thirst and starvation. Eyewitnesses found the bodies of more than 200 hens in the manure. Video taken at the properties also depict a number of dead chickens in cages with live birds, and many carcasses lining manure pits under the cages.

One of the three farms featured in the video is identified by PETA as Jaedel Enterprises. Another is Elite Farm Services. This is the same company filmed during another undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals in 2017 that showed staffers mangling, stomping on and throwing chickens against walls. Charges have been submitted to Crown but have yet to be approved. (that’s our justice system)

It was in April, the same month that this gruesome video was shot, that BC Egg had a propaganda piece in the Vancouver Sun. What a contrast! Katie Lowe, executive director, claimed: “We have some of the best food safety rules and animal care practices in the world.” We contacted BC Egg over its extravagant claims. Cruelty is inherent throughout the industry, with undercover investigations exposing egregious abuses every time. Don’t buy the lies!

July 12, 2018 update: BC Egg Marketing Board spokesperson, Katie Lowe, says Abbotsford egg farm, Jaedel, has been decommissioned after egregious suffering and cruelty of chickens was exposed by activists last month. Government doesn’t oversee or monitor animal welfare on farms to see if the voluntary Codes of Practice are being adhered to. It is time for intervention. The Codes need to be incorporated into the PCA Act so they can be enforced into law. 

Industry inspections failed to catch what was in plain sight, further supporting the urgency for action. Self-regulation is not an effective way to enforce animal welfare standards & prevent abuse. The BC poultry industry’s idyllic portrayal to the public is a false one, designed to maximize profits while concealing the gruesome reality behind closed doors.

March 8, 2019 NFACC Codes incorporated into Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act  

Last week, BC’s NDP government announced that the NFACC Codes of Practice would updated and put into legislation, effective June 1st.  Rather than prescribing a positive duty of care, the Codes will be used to describe generally accepted practices of animal management. The requirements as set out in the Codes will provide additional clarity around what is considered to be a generally accepted practice as referenced in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

However, this language falls well short of holding industry accountable. We need to raise the bar to protect all animals equally under both provincial and federal laws.

In 2017, after the Chilliwack Cattle Sales hidden video of dairy cows was revealed, the BC SPCA worked with the provincial government to have the Code of Practice for Dairy Cattle adopted into a new regulation so that the “generally accepted practices” outlined in the code became clearly entrenched in the law,” says Marcie Moriarty, Chief Prevention & Enforcement Officer.

“We had hoped to see the same support by the chicken industry.” It was declined. Clearly, this industry cares little or nothing about the lives of chickens, and would prefer to keep the gruesome reality of its business behind closed doors.

June 1, 2019 Codes of practice to protect B.C. farm animals now in effect

Quick Fact: The new codes cover beef, bison, hatching eggs, poultry breeders, chickens and turkeys, equines, farmed fox, farmed mink, pigs, pullets and laying hens, rabbits, sheep and veal cattle. Let’s work to raise the bar to protect all animals equally under both provincial and federal laws.

For more information: https://www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice


In 2005, NFACC replaced the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council in coordinating the development of guidelines for the care and handling of farmed animals, known as “codes of practice.” Agriculture & Agri-Foods Canada (AAFC) committed $314,827 to the new agency, an agency that is industry-controlled.

It should be noted that the veal calves fact sheet says that whether the animals are humanely raised is entirely dependent on the skills, training, & integrity of the producer.

Undercover video by MFA reveals severe abuse of dairy cows at Chilliwack Cattle Sales; inherent wrongs exposed throughout industry; flagrant abuse at Quebec veal farm; mad cow disease AB; countries ban Cdn beef due to BSE

2012- 2013 NFACC Code Development Timeline

2015 – 2017 NFACC Code Development Timeline

Comment: The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC has contacted and met with various politicians and other representatives, including those from the BC SPCA, requesting that the welfare of rabbits bred and raised for the meat industry be addressed. Codes are now underway and will take at least two years to complete.

We would like to remind everyone that the overwhelming majority of “food” animals live and die in misery and are deprived of their right to life. There is no such thing as humane slaughter and oversight is lacking.

If you haven’t done so already, join the millions who have already embraced an ethical and healthy plant-based diet.

Read more: No laws to protect Canadian livestock rabbits; NFACC; letters; Colorado cruelty case tests definition; Meat Inspection Regulations; Codes underway for rabbits 2015; update 2017; Feb./18 Codes released

2012 - 2013 National Farmed Animal Health & Welfare Report

Read more: NFACC: Animal Care Assessment Model