Taking care of animals on the road

cattle-truckAt any given point, there are more animals on the move in Canada than most of us realize.

Livestock – like cattle, sheep and pigs – travel our highways as they move from farm to farm or when they are sent to market.

And because our food and farming sector is dealing with the same consolidation issues as many other industries across North America, these animals are spending more and more time on the road to get to where they are going.

For example, beef animals can be born in Alberta then sent to farms in Ontario to be raised to market weight. Piglets born in Quebec can be raised in Ontario and then sent processing plants in the United States for slaughter.  All this adds up to a lot of road miles and a lot of different people handling and looking after animals.

Now, an organization in Ontario has hired a livestock transportation specialist to offer training to livestock truckers and others who handle animals while they are in transit.

The goal behind this Ontario Farm Animal Council initiative is to ensure those handling animals are trained in the latest techniques and are aware of what the newest humane animal handling rules and regulations are.

The program will also offer emergency response training so that those responding to accidents involving livestock know what to do. Spilling a tractor trailer load of food products or packaging supplies, for example, is a totally different situation than a trucking accident involving animals, who at the very least will be spooked and at worst could be dead or injured.

The Ontario Cattlemen’s Association and Ontario Pork have helped provide funding for this project, along with the Agricultural Adaptation Council.

As the industry changes and new transport realities become the norm, it’s good to see farm groups step up and show leadership like this.

Photo courtesy of the Ontario Farm Animal Council photo library.

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