animal transport

animal transport


Please sign and share our e-Parliamentary petition on animal transport



Canada’s transport regulations governing the handling and transport of farm animals are cruel and outdated and need to be revised.


Read our fact sheet on animal transport


The basics

Virtually all farmed animals are transported at least once in their lives.

Long-distance journeys are a traumatic experience for farmed animals.

Animals should not be transported if it can be avoided, and journeys involving animals should be as short as possible. Generally, the longer the journey, the lesser the animal’s welfare.

A meat-only trade is recommended in place of long journeys.

Canadian animals that are exported are not protected by Canadian transport standards, and can end up in countries where they receive little or no protection.

Spent hens should be euthanized on-farm whenever possible to spare them the trauma of transport.


Current standards for animal transport allow:

  • Horses, pigs and other monogastric animals (including poultry) to be transported 36 hours without food water or rest, in addition to a 5-hour food withdrawal period;
  • Cattle, sheep, goats or other ruminants to be transported 52 hours within Canada without food, water or rest, in addition to a 5-hour food withdrawal period;
  • Rest periods need be only 5 hours following maximum travel times, until transport may begin again;
  • Current standards are vague, e.g., suggesting there should not be “inadequate ventilation.” Instead, the standards should specify automatic heating and cooling systems for vehicles;

Existing standards actually allow beating an animal, stating, “No person shall beat an animal being loaded or unloaded in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering to it.”

Canada’s current animal transportation regulations (Health of Animals Regulations, Part XII) can be viewed here.

The Compromised Animals Policy can be viewed here.

The stress of transport

Long haul transportation (longer than eight hours) is common and poses significant risk to animals due to water and food deprivation, exhaustion, jostling and piling, over-heating or exposure to cold temperatures. The importing and exporting of animals for food is a global business. Animals are transported by motor vehicle, sea vessel, railway or aircraft. For example, Canadian cattle are shipped to Mexico by truck.

“Downer” – is an industry term to describe an animal too sick or injured to walk or stand. Downers are a serious consequence of the animal industry, causing animal suffering and human health hazards. Downer animals should be humanely killed on the farm, not dragged onto vehicles to slaughter plants, in hopes of obtaining “salvage” value from suffering animals. Despite the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) recent ban on transportation of downer animals, downer animals still occur.

Loading and unloading – rough treatment of animals during loading and unloading often involves excessive electric prodding. Most downer pigs result from rough, aggressive handling from farm to slaughter plant. “Spent hens” – birds being slaughtered following a year of egg production, are especially vulnerable to rough handling and too often arrive injured or dead at slaughter plants.


Overcrowding – causes trampled animals and downers, and does not allow sufficient space for animals to lie down during long journeys. Overcrowding causes decreased airflow and leads to high ammonia levels and poor air quality. Chickens, pigs and sheep are particularly susceptible to problems from poor air quality, and often die en route.


For more information about farm animal transport, download our fact sheet. You can also download our transportation fact sheet in french.


Take action

To express your concern about Canada’s out-of-date regulations and to request the Canadian Food Inspection Agency update them, please send an email to Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.



Videos of animals in transport


Court case against Maple Lodge Farms


Report by World Society for the Protection of Animals:

Curb the Cruelty: Canada's farm animal transport ststem in need of repair


Other organizations and campaigns working to end long distance transport