Beef Code of Practice

Download the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle

About the code

In 1980, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies began coordinating the process of developing Codes of Practice for all livestock species. In 1991, the Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Animals - Beef Cattle was developed from an original working draft contracted by the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association to Dr. Frank Hurnik, Professor, Poultry and Animal Science, University of Guelph, Ontario. This draft was then submitted to all of the Canadian Cattle Association’s (CCA) provincial associations for review and input. Through agreement between the CCA and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and Agriculture Canada, a review committee chaired by Dr. Hurnik brought together individuals representing the industry, professional agricultural and veterinary associations, transporters, processors, and auction markets, research, Food Production and Inspection branches of Agriculture Canada, and animal care and welfare organizations.

Since 2005, the responsibility for developing and revising Canada’s Codes of Practice has fallen under the mandate of the National Farm Animal Care Council ( This revised Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle was updated through a similar consultation and review process, by a committee representing a wide range of stakeholders, according to the Code development process developed by NFACC.

All herd sizes require adequate human resources to ensure proper care and well-being of the animals. Everyone handling cattle should be familiar with their normal behaviour and should use low stress, behaviour-based cattle handling techniques. The selection and training of personnel are the most important factors in ensuring that cattle will be managed humanely. All personnel working with cattle or managing cattle facilities should be experienced or properly trained regarding humane handling, equipment use, and livestock care. They should understand their responsibilities and ensure that routine cattle management practices promote animal well-being and avoid unnecessary suffering of cattle. Calm, healthy cattle have higher productivity and economic value than stressed or ill cattle. However, an equal standard of humane treatment must be provided to cattle that have less economic value (e.g. cull cows, downers and chronically ill cattle).

The Canadian beef sector involves seedstock and cow-calf producers, backgrounding and feedlot operations, transporters, sale yards and assembly stations, veterinarians and packing plants operating under diverse climatic and geographical conditions. Cattle care is practiced all along the production chain and the well-being of beef cattle can be safeguarded under a variety of husbandry and management systems.