Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

RANCH MUSINGS: Animal care

The eyes of the world might just be watching your operation

There will be a lot of cattle moving soon to market. Cattle owners will need to be keeping in mind good animal care practices as well as biosecurity practices.

Recently the BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) sent out a package of information to its membership on both of these subjects to remind them of the resources available for them to get up to speed on these subjects.


Readers may remember the animal rights activists who snuck (illegally, some would say) into a pork operation and released video of some conditions and practices in the barn. The SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) upon looking the situation did not find evidence on which to follow up with charges against the pork producer.

It seems that the SPCA took some heat from animal activists for not pursuing this matter.

Whether prompted by criticism or other reasons, it now happens that the SPCA is undertaking unannounced inspections of farms and ranches. They are selecting two farms from each livestock sector to inspect.

The BC Cattlemen’s and other livestock industries are seeking to clarify what powers the SPCA has to conduct these inspections.

Clarification is being sought from the Ministry of Agriculture regarding whether enshrining codes of practice into regulation give powers to the SPCA to do these investigations.

These codes give requirements for care and handling of livestock.

There is also a code of practice for biosecurity on several topics: commingling of animal from different herds, animal health, managing the movement of people, vehicles, equipment and tools; movement of high-risk animals; and planning and recording biosecurity.

While industry associations were consulted and engaged in developing the codes of practise and generally agreed that codes are useful, there is a lot to do on most operations to be completely compliant with everything.

If an operator is using “best practices” as laid out in the codes then they will have a good defence if a unannounced inspection should take place. In short, animals need to be cared for in a way that does not put them at risk of distress caused by inadequate shelter, food or water.

Here are some links to get you started: www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-Practice/beef-cattle and one on biosecurity.

The eyes of the world might just be watching your operation. Consumers of our products increasingly want to know how their food is raised. This is especially true for live animals.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.


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