Equine Processing Standards Set

Equine industry sets animal welfare standard for processing

(Calgary) 10 Nov 2010 … The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC) and the Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) are pleased to introduce the Recommended Handling Guidelines and Animal Welfare Assessment Tool for Horses. This comprehensive industry developed guideline and animal welfare assessment tool will provide consistent standards for the handling of horses at processing. This project enabled a joining of forces that included science, research, welfare experts and government representatives from across North America. The guidelines, reviewed by CFIA will be released at a training session for assessors later this month.

The animal agriculture industry and the public agree that farm animals must be treated humanely throughout their lives, including on-farm, in transport, at end of life and at processing plants. In 2009 there were in excess of 93,000 horses processed for meat in Canada.

The guidelines are intended to be utilized for third party audits and by the horse processing industry for guidance, education and in-house assessments. They offer detailed information about equine behavior and handling, facility design, transport, compromised animals, effective stunning and willful acts of abuse.

“The equine industry is committed to having the highest standards for humane and ethical treatment of animals. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also the law,” said Bill desBarres, Chair of HWAC. “This industry developed tool will provide guidance, education and a means to audit animal welfare at the plants.”

The guidelines are based on the understanding that animal behavior is key to humane livestock handling. When proper handling techniques are used the animals experience less fear and stress and the job of moving animals is easier. Reduced stress also provides for a higher quality end product.

“It is our belief that these tools developed for the welfare of horses will set the standards for the meat processing industry. The program will provide our management and employees with the training and guidance they need to ensure all horses are handled properly,” says Claude Bouvry of Bouvry Exports. “The guidelines, along with video surveillance, will bring confidence to our producers and our customers.”

For more details on these handling guidelines and other equine welfare initiatives and resources visit www.horsewelfare.ca.

About HWAC

HWAC is an industry developed organization formed to promote the humane handling of horses throughout all their life stages and including processing. Industry believes that all horses destined for processing must be treated humanely and with dignity, and transported to the production facility according to current national regulations.

For more information contact:

Bill desBarres, Chair Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada 403-526-1070 info@horsewelfare.ca
Jennifer Woods, J Woods Livestock Services 403-684-3008 livestockhandling@mac.com