From Farm to Sanctuary – Treatment of Farm Animals in Canada

Farming laws in Canada set the standard of care for the 800 million land animals slaughtered in the country each year1. While most Canadians believe that the government ensures humane farming practices, this is regrettably far from the truth2. The disconnect that occurs between farm animals as a product and animals as thinking, feeling beings is essential because as long as decision-makers reduce animals to dollars and cents, they leave no room for compassion.

Laws that could serve to limit animal suffering are generally lenient or otherwise rarely enforced3. For instance, Canada is set to update its transportation laws in 2020, regulating the number of hours that farmed animals can legally travel without food, water, or rest4. Under the new rules, pigs can be kept in a transport truck for 28 hours without food or water, down from 36. While this may seem to be an improvement, these regulations remain far behind world leaders in industrial farming. In the European Union and New Zealand, the limit is 8 hours5.

Animals being transported experience extreme stress, which is made worse by long periods without food and water6. Additionally, transport trucks are not equipped to protect them from harsh weather conditions, and they may die from overheating or freezing to death7. Transportation laws state that overcrowding should be avoided, but without specific standards, corporations are incentivized to push the boundaries of legality to lower costs. The result is that over 1.5 million animals die in transport each year, and a vast number of them needlessly suffer8.

While laws are slowly and incrementally improving, the framing of animals as no more than a product needs to change. Until animals become more respected under the law, policymakers will continue to prioritize corporate interests over animal needs.

The Farm Sanctuary Movement

An essential step in establishing this respect for farm animals is to learn more about them. Farm sanctuaries across Canada have devoted themselves to educating communities on the unique and loveable personalities of the animals that they care for. All the while, they provide a caring home for animals who would otherwise be killed or left to suffer.

FarmHouse Garden Animal Home

Mike Lanigan started Farmhouse Garden Animal Home in Uxbridge three years ago, transforming his family cattle ranch into a happy home for the cows. Mike had a change of heart after caring for a premature calf, later named Hope. All the cows that were being raised for slaughter now have a home of love and compassion on the farm9. On an average day, these cows can be found enjoying the fresh air and mud and being treated to the organic parsnips grown on the very farmland that they help to fertilize.
           
Mike welcomes visitors to the farm and enthusiastically talks about the organic vegetables he grows, the personalities and relationships between cows, and his journey with the farm. You can visit Farmhouse Garden on one of their special event days or sign up to volunteer to get to know the residents for yourself.

Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary

Cedar Row farm sanctuary is located outside of Stratford, Ontario. This family-run farm has been operating for 20 years and has rescued hundreds of animals10.
          
The farm is surrounded by a community of pork and dairy farmers. At Cedar Row, not only are animals given another chance at life but by visiting the farm (or their Instagram!) we can get to know the uniqueness of each pig, cow, chicken, and horse that lives there. Cedar Row teaches that their personalities are no less unique and loveable than the companion animals we know and care for. On their website and on social media, the farm shares how the animals ended up at Cedar Row, and what their days look like on the farm11.

Jimmy, the pig, was birthed on a transport truck while his mother was being shipped for slaughter12. His mom was a cull sow, which means that either because she had weaned small litters or had other health concerns, she was considered to be economically inefficient. As a result, she would be sent to slaughter. When Jimmy was born, a young worker was instructed to kill him because he was taken away from the herd and was considered contaminated. The worker had compassion for Jimmy and brought him home instead. Years later, he found his way to Cedar Row farm, where he is now living a comfortable and happy life13.
           
While Jimmy had a lucky turn of fate, the cruel practices of industrial farming remain very active today. Consider visiting a farm sanctuary in your area to connect with the animals and learn more about the farming practices in Canada that brought them there.

To find upcoming events, sign up to volunteer or donate to the farm sanctuaries discussed, visit https://www.farmhousegardenanimalhome.com/ or https://cedarrow.org/, or look for a farm sanctuary near you.

Citations

[1] “Over 819 Million Land Animals Slaughtered by Canadian Meat Industry in 2018.”

Animal Justice, 2019,

[2] “Realities of Farming in Canada.” Humane Canada. Accessed October, 2019.

https://www.humanecanada.ca/realities_of_farming_in_canada

[3] Ibid.

[4] Canada. Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Fact sheet: Then vs. Now- Humane

Transportation Regulations. 2019.

https://www.inspection.gc.ca/animals/terrestrial-animals/humane-transport/then-vs-now-humane-transportation-regulations/eng/1550521526833/1550521527082

[5] Labchuk, Camille. “New Animal Transport Regulations Condemn Animals to Suffer

and Die.” Animal Justice, 2019,

[6] “During Transport”. Animal Welfare Institute. Accessed October, 2019.

https://awionline.org/content/during-transport

[7] Labchuk, “New Animal Transport.”

[8] Ibid.

[9] “Our Story.” Farmhouse Garden Animal Home. Accessed October 2019.

https://www.farmhousegardenanimalhome.com/our-story

[10] “About Cedar Row.” Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. Accessed October 2019.

[11] Ibid.

[12] “Jimmy.” Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. Accessed October 2019.

[13] Ibid.