Course teaches truckers on livestock

Public face of industry | Program has worked with 1,700 livestock truckers since it was started in Alberta in 2007

Livestock truck transport is a common sight on prairie highways and one of few fleeting connections many consumers will ever make with animal agriculture.

That’s one reason it is important to ensure livestock truckers are well trained in proper transport of their live cargo, says one industry expert.

But the most important reason is the health and safety of the animals themselves.

That is Geraldine Auston’s view. She is project co-ordinator of the Canadian Livestock Transport Certification Program, a training initiative developed in Alberta six years ago that officially became national in scope this month.

“It’s an emotional thing for people to see animals on a truck, knowing where they’re going,” she said.

“These animals are raised for food. That is a fact. But it doesn’t discount the fact that we do the best for them every step through this chain. That is what this program is about.”

More than 1,700 livestock truckers have taken the course since its 2007 inception by Alberta Farm Animal Care, said Auston.

That is only a portion of the people who haul livestock for a living or who have an interest in animal transport. Promotion of the course is one of her early goals.

The course provides information on animal handling, welfare, regulations, optimal travelling times, trailer design, bedding, loading and offloading and a host of other topics related to transport of cattle, hogs, horses, sheep, poultry and other species.

Formerly known as the Certified Livestock Transport training program, the updated version reflects different challenges in different parts of the country, said Auston.

For example, rain is a bigger consideration for truckers in British Columbia, while wind chill is a primary concern during Saskatchewan winters.

Auston said the program, now organized through the Canadian Animal Health Care Coalition, is training instructors for classroom teaching and is also developing an online version of the course.

However, the program continues to be available while this occurs.

Once participants have passed the course, certification is effective for three years, after which it must be taken again to re-certify.

There are three certification levels, with material designed for truckers, on-farm handlers, dispatchers, processing plant workers and others with an interest in the process.

The cost is $125 per year, for a total of $375. Auston said the coalition is examining ways to offset the cost to truckers.

Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, who has studied livestock transport in her work with Agriculture Canada, said she applauds the course becoming national in scope.

“I think it’s obviously the way we need to go and has such good benefits for the industry, for the public in general, for the animals. It’s making something we do, better,” she said.

“Any training we can put into place for people hauling our animals is a good thing.”

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