The new code of practice for the care and handling of equines in Canada, released by Equine Canada and the National Farm Animal Care Council, includes official guidelines on ethical training methods and exercise requirements.
The code is available for download at www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/equine.
“The development of this new code is perhaps the most important project in recent Canadian history for the health and welfare of equines in Canada,” said Jack de Wit, director with the Equine Canada board and chairman of the Code Development Committee.
“This is a code of practice we can all be proud to have. It is among the most comprehensive of equine codes internationally, and will serve a vital role across our diverse industry.”
The code’s development was led by an 18-person committee comprised of equine owners, caregivers, animal welfare and enforcement representatives, researchers, veterinarians and government representatives.
Aiding in their work was a five-person Scientific Committee that included researchers with expertise in equine behaviour, health and welfare.
“I am very pleased with the high standards of care required for horses in the new equine code,” said Dr Bettina Bobsien, of the British Columbia SPCA, who represented the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies on the Code Development Committee.
“It is also encouraging to see this code mandate ethical training methods, exercise requirements and restrictions on tail alterations.”
Canada’s codes of practice are a powerful tool for meeting rising consumer, marketplace and societal expectations relative to farm animal welfare. Codes support responsible animal care practices and keep those involved in farm animal care and handling on the same page.
They comprise information on the national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices, providing a foundation for animal care assessment programs and in some provinces, regulatory activities.
The equine code is the third of eight farm animal codes of practice currently under revision.
Efforts are under way to ensure widespread distribution of the equine code through not only printed copies but also electronic versions for viewing on-line, and for downloading to computers and mobile devices.
As printed copies will be in limited supply, stakeholders are encouraged to make use of the electronic format.
Funding for the codes is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Agricultural Flexibility Fund.
The National Farm Animal Care Council is a collaborative partnership of diverse stakeholders created in 2005 to share information and work together on farm animal care and welfare.