Facilities for All Cattle

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Source: National Farm Animal Care Council, Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle Section 1.2

The Canadian beef industry comprises the cow-calf, backgrounder and feedlot sectors. Production practices for all sectors have developed in response to Canada’s diverse climatic and geographical conditions. Even though the areas involved may be large, facilities for pastured or range cattle still require monitoring and maintenance. It is beyond the scope of this Code to describe all shelter and housing facilities used in beef cattle production. Individuals requiring further details should refer to local sources of information, such as universities, agricultural and environmental ministries, producer organizations, and experienced beef producers (9) (see Appendix G).

Outcome-based measures that the livestock producer can use for assessing the suitability of housing and stocking density include morbidity and mortality rates for lameness and injuries, changes in normal cattle behaviour, such as bulling/riding, poor performance (e.g. body weight, average daily gain, feed efficiency, daily dry matter intake), and abnormal physical appearance (1).

REQUIREMENTS

All beef operations must have access to equipment or facilities for the safe handling, restraint, treatment, segregation, loading, and unloading of cattle.

Design or manage indoor and outdoor cattle facilities to provide well-drained, comfortable resting areas.

Provide traction in handling areas to minimize cattle slips and falls.

All cattle in a group must have sufficient space to adopt normal resting postures at the same time.

Cattle kept in groups must be able to move freely around the pen and access feed and water.

Stocking density must be managed such that weight gain and duration of time spent lying is not adversely affected by crowding.

Maintain indoor air quality and ventilation at all times (ammonia levels < 25ppm).

Provide cattle housed indoors that do not have access to natural light with supplementary lighting to allow natural behaviour patterns and monitoring of the cattle.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. ensure that all cattle facilities and areas are safe and free of hazards that can cause injury
  2. provide a separate area with dry bedding for the recovery of severely sick or injured cattle
  3. consider biosecurity measures when designing and managing cattle facilities
  4. ensure restraint devices are used properly. Pressure that causes pain or discomfort can cause cattle to panic and should be avoided
  5. minimize noise from handling equipment to facilitate movement. High-pitched sounds are especially disturbing to cattle
  6. provide daily exercise for any cattle that are tethered. Tethering devices must be safe for the animals and should not interfere with the actions of standing up or lying down. Tethering devices should be regularly inspected for proper function and safety.

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