New transportation rules require producers to document the last time cattle were given feed, water and rest, and give info to truckers
More record keeping and attention to feed, water and rest requirements are the biggest changes for cattle producers and truckers arising from new federal livestock transportation regulations.
The new rules came into effect in February and began with a two-year grace period during which the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said it would focus on education rather than hard enforcement.
Brady Stadnicki, manager of policy and programs for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, and Andrea van Iterson, executive director of the British Columbia Association of Cattle Feeders, gave their assessment Sept. 9 about effects of the new rules.
Stadnicki said it’s important to note that the clock on maximum time of transport for cattle, now 36 hours rather than the previous 48 hours, starts when feed, water and rest are withdrawn, not when animals are loaded onto the truck or when the truck starts moving.
That was confirmed by CFIA veterinarian Anne Allen in a separate presentation provided to pork producers last week.
“There’s been a little bit of confusion here,” said Allen.
“Feed, water and rest intervals start when the animal has last had all three elements. So when you have all three available to you, you’re good, and the first time that we take one of the elements away… it means that we start the interval then. … You have to have all three elements to stop the clock and start it.”
Stadnicki said it is important for producers to document the last time cattle were provided with feed, water and rest, and that information must also be provided to the truck driver, who takes over the duty of care. As well, producers and transporters must note that required rest stops were increased to eight hours from the previous five.
“There are definitely some changes. They’ve been in place for about seven months now, but there’s been a soft enforcement approach for the feed, water and rest intervals,” he said.
Van Iterson said additional record keeping is likely to be the biggest change for B.C. producers.
“Maybe it’s not something that we’ve typically done as a practice on our operations before,” she said.
“I think that once producers start doing it, it really isn’t as bad as we may perceive it to be. It can definitely be frustrating to feel like we have added workload put onto us but the sooner we can get it done… it really isn’t that bad.”
Van Iterson said producers should take the Canadian Livestock Transport certification program, just as transporters do, so they fully understand the challenges and requirements.
“A lot of times, we load our cattle onto the truck and it’s kind of ‘our job is done’ when it really isn’t. They’re still our cattle, it’s still a part of our care so having that background is really helpful too.”
Regulations regarding transport of compromised animals, or those deemed unfit for transport, have also been changed. Stadnicki noted there is plenty of information available on how to determine the status of such animals and how to handle them if and when they must be transported. The national code of practice for beef cattle, as well as the CFIA’s interpretive guidance on its website, are accurate resources, he said.
The rules should not intimidate producers, added van Iterson.
“As producers, when we hear that something that has been embedded into regulation or is actually a part of regulation now, that can be a little bit scary for us to hear. I think what we need to remember is that we’re most likely, in most instances… we’re already doing the right thing. We’re doing things properly.”
Safe transportation falls under the animal care expectations within Verified Beef Production Plus and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
A webinar with CFIA to discuss the new regulations and answer questions is planned for Sept. 22. Details will be available through the Alberta Farm Animal Care Council.