Animal Welfare Standards

  • Dairy farmers across Canada are required to participate in a national farm assurance program called proAction. proAction has six pillars including; milk quality, food safety, traceability, biosecurity, environment, and animal care.
  • The proAction program ensures on-farm practices adhere to the national Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, which was developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), in consultation with animal welfare advocates, researchers and industry experts. proAction is recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as a food safety program..
  • Farms document how they adhere to proAction requirements on an ongoing basis, and this adherence is verified annually. Trained professionals audit each farm in person at least once every two years.
  • Animal health and well-being are a high priority on Canadian dairy farms. Farmers continually invest in technology and equipment for their farms, working with experts like veterinarians and nutritionists to constantly improve cow health and comfort.

Animal Care
Below are some day-to-day examples of how farmers ensure high standards of animal care on the farm:

  • Working closely with veterinarians on a regular basis to monitor cow health, and prevent health issues before they arise.
  • Ensuring clean water and fresh feed is available at all times, including working with a nutritionist for diets that keep cows healthy at each stage of life.
  • Providing cows with comfortable bedding using materials such as sand, straw, wood shavings and/or specialized mattresses designed for cows.
  • Bringing in a hoof specialist to care for their cow’s hooves, to ensure they can walk comfortably.
  • Temperature controlled barns to ensure cow comfort during all seasons. Large fans and adjustable barn walls help maintain a cool breeze in the summer. Barn walls can be adjusted to create a more insulated environment in the winter.

Continuous Improvement

  • the proAction program is based on the premise of continuous improvement. The NFACC Code of practice for the care and handling of dairy cattle, published in 2019, is currently under revision based on new scientific findings from the past 10 years. proAction will be updated to reflect any changes to the code of practice once the new standards are released.
  • Through the Dairy Industry Research and Education Committee (DIREC), BC Dairy helps fund research to continuously advance animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and producer education on a variety of topics. BC Dairy farmers have contributed to research in partnership with academic institutions across Canada, including the University of British Columbia and University of Calgary. The industry continues to evaluate the latest research and look for ways farmers can adopt new practices that benefit the health and welfare of their animals and the land.