The health and well-being of the birds is of critical importance to the whole industry, at all stages of the journey from gate to plate. In the vast majority of cases, catching and transportation is coordinated by the processors, who purchase the live birds from the farmers. Transport and processing regulations are an important part in ensuring the continued welfare of our birds. For poultry in Canada this is regulated by the Health of Animals Act, which the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has the authority to enforce. CFIA is in the process of updating the transportation regulations and Chicken Farmers of Canada is actively involved in the consultation process.
To go along with the Health of Animals Act, the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures outlines the procedures for humane handling and slaughter of poultry in Canada.
In addition to the regulations, the industry abides by the Codes of Practice. There is a Code for on-farm practices, including up until the time birds are placed on the truck, as well as a Transport Code that covers bird welfare in transit. More info on the Code process can be found under this tab.
Chicken catchers work together to ensure stress on the birds is minimized during loading, and receive training in proper handling and care procedures.
Chicken Farmers of Canada invests annually in poultry research through the Canadian Poultry Research Council. Since 2010, a number of studies have been funded to improve the transportation process. Study areas have included: weather impact on birds, risk factors during transport, and moisture as a hindrance/guide to transport.
The poultry industry has worked diligently with partners in the catching, transport and processing sectors to extend animal care guidelines for poultry from the farm through to processing. As a result of these efforts, the “Recommended Best Practices for Bird Care in the Canadian Poultry Supply Chain from Farmer to Processor” was completed in 2012 and is reviewed and updated annually. The poultry industry also has a number of tools to help producers ensure good welfare for birds during transport and this includes the “Should this bird be loaded” and the “Should this load be transported” guidelines for transporting poultry.