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Alberta Beef Producers Animal Welfare Issues January 28, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Alberta Beef Producers Animal Welfare Issues January 28, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Alberta Beef Producers Animal Welfare Issues January 28, 2008

2 Outline What is Alberta Beef Producers? Animal welfare in the beef industry –Transportation –Winter grazing

3 Alberta Beef Producers A producer group representing Alberta’s beef industry Started in late 1960’s (Alberta Cattle Commission) Works closely with Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Collects a $3 checkoff on cattle marketed in Alberta Funds are used for promotion, marketing, research, and “advising government”

4 Structure Producer delegates elected to represent geographic zones, sectors Board of directors Producer committees and staff work in dedicated areas –Sector specific issues –Communication – producers, society –Government affairs –Research, etc.

5 Promotion

6 North American Marketing

7 International Marketing

8 Research Policy Development Communication with public and producers Other Activities


10 Animal Welfare Society is changing -~80% of Canada’s population is urban (> 10,000). -Small proportion of population is involved in primary agricultural production -Not intimately familiar with how food is produced - Pets are the main animal people are familiar with

11 Animal Welfare There is a spectrum of views, from “No one has the right to question what I do with my animals”, to

12 Animal Welfare There is a spectrum of views, from “No one has the right to question what I do with my animals”, to “Humans have a responsibility to care for the animals that are under their control”, to

13 Animal Welfare There is a spectrum of views, from “No one has the right to question what I do with my animals”, to “Humans have a responsibility to care for the animals that are under their control”, to “Animals should have the same rights as humans”

14 Cattle Producers Recognize that well-treated animals are healthier, grow better, and have higher carcass value than mistreated animals. Cattlemen take pride in a job well done. “Good Commerce = Good Welfare” The cattle industry is very visible –Ranches, feedlots, trucks

15 Transportation

16 Canadian Food Inspection Agency In Dec. 2005, the CFIA announced possible changes to Regulations pertaining to the “Transportation of Animals” (HofA Act) 30 years old New scientific information re: how animals are affected by transport Society’s expectations have changed

17 Proposed changes The CFIA proposed a number of changes to: –Loading density –Transport distances and times –Feed water and rest intervals –Hauling in cold temperatures

18 Implications Increased transportation costs would affect the competitiveness of our industry Costs are passed down through the chain

19 ABP’s response Age of the reg’s doesn’t justify change Good commerce = good welfare Need Canadian-based science to justify that changes will improve animal welfare Need to consider that changes to facility and trailer design, construction and suspension have improved animal welfare

20 Transport Benchmarking Study Very little Canadian research (distances, climate, cattle type) ABP initiated and co-funded a study by Ag. Canada to survey: –Loading densities, transport distances & times, feed water and rest breaks, trailer types, driver experience, animal condition, number of downers… in loads originating or leaving Alberta (also Ontario).

21 CFIA appears to recognize that not all the answers are known Recognizes that truckers have considerable expertise Recognizes that trucker training and experience is possibly the most important factor influencing animal welfare Move to “Outcome-based” regs Current status

22 The CFIA is in an Awkward Position Has to somehow reconcile the views of industry, with the views of animal rights groups, and try to come up with something that everyone can live with


24 Winter Grazing 1873: First cattle in Alberta Turned loose to fend for themselves Severe winters in 1886/87 and 1906/07 resulted in serious death losses Led to major changes in how cattle are raised: shelter, stored feed, segregation of weaker stock

25 2008 High costs (e.g. fuel) and low prices (feedlot economics) have put cattlemen in a serious economic squeeze. Off-farm jobs Feed accounts for ~65% of production costs Cost cutting measures usually involve improving the efficiency of feed production and use


27 Winter Grazing Common and effective cost saving measure Stubble, swath and bale grazing –Bring cattle to feed, not vice-versa –Cows spread their own manure –Cost savings (time, labor, equipment) –Benefits in terms of economic, lifestyle and pasture management

28 Important Considerations Need to ensure: –Cows are in good BCS at the start –Feed test; is feed adequate? Supplementation? –Shelter is available –Control grazing –Segregate cattle –Water / snow –Plan B Management decision Pay attention to behavior and condition; low quality bale

29 Welfare issues Cases of accidental or deliberate neglect or abuse do not play well in the media These issues are quickly picked up and overblown by animal rights groups

30 SPCA Cases

31 2006/07 SPCA Cases Most were Red Deer north (heavy snow) Main factors identified in 13 major investigations were: 1.Age-related 6 / 13 2. Absentee Owner/Caretaker 4 / 13 3. Inept management 2 / 13 4. Psychological Constraints 1 / 13

32 AFAC ALERT Line Alberta Livestock Emergency Response Team 1-800-506-2273 (toll free, confidential) Calls re: welfare concerns –Caller questioned –If concern is reasonable, will be investigated –Beef producers in area –AFAC vet (Ray Fenton)

33 AFAC Alert Line Opportunity for early intervention Knowledgeable advice to help fix the problem before the problem escalates If serious, case is turned over to the Alberta SPCA Could result in prosecution under the Alberta Animal Protection Act

34 What does this mean? Community-based Industry funds help support the ALERT line –It is confidential –It is not a snitch-line –Use it if you have concerns –Small problems are easier to fix than big ones –Avoid a black eye for the industry


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