Criminal Code of Canada

Although the Criminal Code of Canada offers little protections to farm animals.   Criminal charges are rare and convictions even more infrequent.  Imprisonment for animal-related crimes is atypical.

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According to section 444 of the Criminal Code it is illegal to willfully kill, wound or injure cattle.  Cattle includes horses, mules, asses, pigs, sheep and goat.

According to section 445 of the Criminal Code, it is illegal to willfully and without lawful excuse  kill, wound or injure , dogs, birds or animals that are not cattle and are kept for a lawful purpose.

Hybrid Turkeys – ON 2014

An undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals (MFA) revealed workers at Hybrid Turkeys, kicking and throwing turkeys, crushing their spines, and violently beating them with shovels and metal rods.  Turkeys with open, pus-filled wounds, and decaying infections were left to suffer and eventually die.  A worker casually asked the undercover investigator to kick the animals – a common practice.  In this case, the abuse was so heinous, that criminal charges were filed against Hybrid Turkeys.

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Chilliwack Cattle Sales – B.C. 2014

Chilliwack Cattle Sales is Canada’s largest dairy farm, and home to more than 3,500 animals. Chilliwack Cattle Sales workers were caught on videotape by MFA using chains, canes, rakes, their booted feet and their fists to viciously whip, punch, kick and beat the dairy cows, including downed and trapped cows who could not escape the abuse.Huffington Post

cattle for sale
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Health of Animals Act[1] and Health of Animals Regulations deal with the handling of farm animals during transportation, such as loading and unloading, feeding and watering, length of time in transit, rest periods, bedding, and medical care for animals that become at risk in transit.  Beef cattle are transported three to seven times during their lifetime.  Approximately three million food animals die in transit each year.

Health of Animals Regulations (Regulations) allow cattle and sheep to be transported for up to 52 hours continuously with no food, water or rest.  Pigs, horses and birds can be transported for up to 36 hours.  Chicks can be transported for up to 72 hours from the time of hatching without food and water.[2]  These regulations also allow an animal to go without food and water for 5 hours before being loaded.[3]

Animals may not be transported “if injury or undue suffering is likely to be caused to the animal by reason of undue exposure to the weather or inadequate ventilation”. [4]

Farm animals are routinely transported in the winter during subzero temperatures in inadequate conditions, and often during the coldest times of the day (early morning, night)Spent hens are nearly featherless after a lifetime of laying eggs, making them especially vulnerable to the cold.  These animals may experience extreme ranges in temperature during the same trip, causing deaths.

On January 18, 2012, Lilydale, one of Canada’s largest poultry producers and a repeat offender of the transportation regulations, transported chickens in –12 C weather with a wind chill factor of –20 C. 

Maple Lodge Farms is Canada’s largest independent poultry company and one of the worst violators of animal transportation regulations.  On February 23, 2009, over 1500 chickens froze to death en route to a processing plant.  Maple Lodge Farms was found guilty of 2 criminal charges.

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From December 2008 to February 2009, and then December 2009 to April 2010, thousands of chickens died from exposure to freezing weather during transportation to the slaughterhouse.  There are  58 outstanding criminal charges against Maple Lodge Farms.

The incidents were so grievous and deplorable that the CFIA wrote about it

Section 139 (1) of the Regulations states:

“No person shall beat an animal being loaded or unloaded in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering to it.”

In other words, drivers and handlers are permitted to beat the animals if injury and suffering is not likely to occur.  The Regulations offer no definition or guidelines for beating, injury and undue suffering.  The meaning of beating, injury and undue suffering is left to the interpretation of drivers and handlers with no experience or knowledge in animal care and who are trying to meet a deadline.  Consequently, they use their discretion and often resort to excessive use of electric prods and other devices to get the animals to move along quickly.  This becomes especially apparent since the transportation industry runs on “just-in-time”deliveries and deadlines.

Common devices applied to the animals are:

Electric prods – Drivers are able to alter the voltage from high to low.  Electric prods are frequently pushed into animals’ vaginas and anuses.

Electric prods inside hollowed out rattle paddles – Many drivers hide their electric prods in hollowed out rattle paddles.

Whips – These are used frequently.

Tail-twisting – This method is used to move dairy cows.

Plastic canes – These canes are used to beat the animals on their sensitive parts and are shoved into animals’ rectums and vaginas.

Rattle Paddles – The paddles are used to beat the animals. Rattle paddles often have electric prods hidden in them.

“Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission–to be of service to them whenever they require it… If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. —Saint Francis of Assisi

[1] See

[2],_c._296/page-40.html#h-82 , Section 148

[3] Op.Cit.,,_c._296/page-40.html#h-82 , Section 138(1)(b)

[4] Op.Cit.,,_c._296/page-40.html#h-82, Section 143(1)