The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC) and the Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) have introduced theRecommended Handling Guidelines and Animal Welfare Assessment Tool for Horses.
This comprehensive industry-developed guideline and animal welfare assessment tool will provide consistent standards for the handling of horses at processing. This project enabled a joining of forces that included science, research, welfare experts and government representatives from across North America. The guidelines, reviewed by CFIA, will be released at a training session for assessors later this month.
The animal agriculture industry and the public agree that farm animals must be treated humanely throughout their lives, including on farm, in transport, at end of life and at processing plants. In 2009 there were in excess of 93,000 horses processed for meat in Canada.
The guidelines are intended to be used for third-party audits and by the horse-processing industry for guidance, education and in-house assessments. They offer detailed information about equine behaviour and handling, facility design, transport, compromised animals, effective stunning and wilful acts of abuse.
“The equine industry is committed to having the highest standards for humane and ethical treatment of animals. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also the law,” said Bill des- Barres, chair of HWAC. “This industry-developed tool will provide guidance, education and a means to audit animal welfare at the plants.”
The guidelines are based on the understanding that animal behaviour is key to humane livestock handling. When proper handling techniques are used, the animals experience less fear and stress and the job of moving animals is easier. Reduced stress also provides for a higher-quality end product.
“It is our belief that these tools developed for the welfare of horses will set the standards for the meat-processing industry. The program will provide our management and employees with the training and guidance they need to ensure all horses are handled properly,” says Claude Bouvry of Bouvry Exports. “The guidelines, along with video surveillance, will bring confidence to our producers and our customers.”
For more details on these handling guidelines and other equine welfare initiatives and resources visit www.horsewel fare.ca.