Animal Welfare: Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle

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 Preface | Highlights in the Code | Additional Information

The factsheet is an abbreviation of parts from the current Beef Code of Practice. The Preface below is copied directly from the electronic version and the Highlights in the Code are a listing of the topics addressed in the code itself. For reading of the code itself, go to It can be found on the National Farm Animal Care Council website found at


The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Code development process was followed in the development of this Code of Practice. This Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle replaces its predecessor developed in 1991 and published by Agriculture Canada.

The NFACC Code development process aims to:

  • link Codes with science
  • ensure transparency in the process
  • include broad representation from stakeholders
  • contribute to improvements in farm animal care
  • identify research priorities and encourage work in these priority areas
  • write clearly to ensure ease of reading, understanding and implementation
  • provide a document that is useful for all stakeholders.

The Codes of Practice are nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of farm animals. They serve as our national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices. Codes promote sound management and welfare practices for housing, care, transportation and other animal husbandry practices.

Codes of Practice have been developed for virtually all farmed animal species in Canada. NFACC’s website provides access to all currently available Codes (

The Codes of Practice are the result of a rigorous Code development process, taking into account the best science available for each species, compiled through an independent peer-reviewed process, along with stakeholder input. The Code development process also takes into account the practical requirements for each species necessary to promote consistent application across Canada and ensure uptake by stakeholders resulting in beneficial animal outcomes. Given their broad use by numerous parties in Canada today, it is important for all to understand how they are intended to be interpreted.

Requirements - These refer to either a regulatory requirement, or an industry imposed expectation outlining acceptable and unacceptable practices and are fundamental obligations relating to the care of animals. Requirements represent a consensus position that these measures, at minimum, are to be implemented by all persons responsible for farm animal care. When included as part of an assessment program, those who fail to implement Requirements may be compelled by industry associations to undertake corrective measures, or risk a loss of market options. Requirements also may be enforceable under federal and provincial regulation.

Recommended Practices - Code Recommended Practices may complement a Code’s Requirements, promote producer education and can encourage adoption of practices for continuous improvement in animal welfare outcomes. Recommended Practices are those which are generally expected to enhance animal welfare outcomes, but failure to implement them does not imply that acceptable standards of animal care are not met.

Broad representation and expertise on each Code Development Committee ensures collaborative Code development. Stakeholder commitment is key to ensure quality animal care standards are established
and implemented.

This Code represents a consensus amongst diverse stakeholder groups. Consensus results in a decision that everyone agrees advances animal welfare but does not imply unanimous endorsement of every aspect of the Code. Codes play a central role in Canada’s farm animal welfare system as part of a process of continuous improvement. As a result, they need to be reviewed and updated regularly. Codes should be reviewed at least every five years following publication and updated at least every ten years.

A key feature of NFACC’s Code development process is the Scientific Committee. It is widely accepted that animal welfare Codes, guidelines, standards or legislation should take advantage of the best available research.

A Scientific Committee review of priority animal welfare issues for the species being addressed provided valuable information to the Code Development Committee in developing this Code of Practice. The Scientific Committee report is peer reviewed and publicly available, enhancing the transparency and credibility of the Code.

The ‘Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle: Review of scientific research on priority issues’ developed by the beef cattle Code of Practice Scientific Committee is available on NFACC’s website (

Highlights in the Code

Animal Environment
Protection from Extreme Weather
High Temperature and Humidity
Extreme Cold
Facilities for all Cattle
Additional Facilities for Calving Cows
Feed and Water
Nutrition and Feed Management
Animal Health
Herd Health Management
Sick, Injured and Cull Cattle
Health Conditions Related to Feedlot Cattle
Managing Risk of Bovine Respiratory Disease
Nutritional Disorders Associated with High Energy Feeding
Buller-Steer Syndrome
Managing Pregnant Heifers in the Feedlot
Safety and Emergencies
Animal Husbandry
Handling and Moving Cattle
Reproduction and Calving Management
Colostrum Management
Disbudding and Dehorning
Predator Control
Tail Docking
Pre-Transport Decision Making and Preparation for Transport
Arranging Transport
Loading and Receiving
On-Farm Euthanasia
Euthanasia and Culling Decisions
Methods of On-Farm euthanasia
Confirmation of Insensibility and Death

Additional Information

This factsheet only offers the introduction and listing of topics found in the complete Code of Practice for beef cattle. People who are interested in details should obtain a copy of the code in its entirety.

Available from:

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
180, 6815 – 8th Street NE, Calgary AB T2E 7H7 CANADA
Telephone: (403) 275-8558
Fax: (403) 274-5686

For information on the Code of Practice development process contact:

National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)

Also available in French

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Jessica Walsh.
This document is maintained by Brenda McLellan.
This information published to the web on October 25, 2007.
Last Reviewed/Revised on June 25, 2018.