Photo: Shay Lee
In Canada, goats are raised for meat, milk and fiber.
According to the 2021 Census of Agriculture , the number of goats in Canada totalled 253,278 on 4,801 farms, with Ontario having the highest population; and in that year, 87,068 goats were slaughtered, almost all at provincially inspected establishments. In 2020 there were 287 goat milk producers in Canada, with most (228) located in Ontario.
Canadian law permits “ritual slaughter of food animals” whereby animals (including goats) are not stunned before being killed.
The National Farm Animal Care Council’s 2003 Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Goats is being updated. (Note that such Codes of Practice are guidelines without legal effect.) As part of the process, a Scientific Committee has reviewed the scientific research on priority areas relating to key animal welfare matters affecting goats. In its August 2020 report, priorities discussed include the painful procedures of castration, disbudding, dehorning, and horn tipping; on-farm slaughter (euthanasia) methods; lameness (resulting from e.g. poor hoof care); space preferred by goats (e.g. for lying, eating and drinking); and impacts of husbandry practices on their social and cognitive behaviour (e.g. maternal bonding, hierarchical relationships, the stress of unfamiliar goats/unstable groupings, the stress of isolation (even after only 5 minutes), and the importance of positive human-goat interactions as well as enrichment for natural behaviour).
Weaning is one of the more stressful experiences for kids, with “weaning shock” a serious and common risk. Compounding that stress is the stress caused by separating a kid from his/her mother, as for goats raised for meat both these stressful events may happen together. In a goat dairy operation, kids may be separated at birth (and fed colostrum manually) or may be allowed to suckle colostrum naturallly and then separated after 24 hours.
Proper care and humane treatment are essential for physiological and psychological health. According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, “As dairy goat farms/producers become more progressive and milk yields increase, we frequently see more herd-related issues dealing with animal disease…”. (http://omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/goat/news/dgg1408a3.htm) There are many reportable and zoonotic diseases that affect goats. For example, goats are one of the species susceptible to infection with the highly infectious bacterium C. Burnetii which can cause Q fever in humans