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The Latest Research on Cattle Transport and Rest Stops

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will start phasing in its enforcement of Canada’s revised livestock transportation regulations on February 20. One of the most significant changes for cattle transporters is a reduction in the maximum time in transit before cattle must be off-loaded for feed, water and rest.

Currently, cattle can be transported for 48 hours before a mandatory five-hour feed, water and rest stop. There is one exception; if a truck is less than four hours from its final destination when it reaches the 48-hour mark, it can continue to its destination without a rest stop. On February 20, this changes to a maximum of 36 hours before an eight-hour feed, water and rest stop, with no four-hour grace period. This change will likely have the greatest impact on feeder cattle and truckers travelling from Western to Central Canada, and cattle travelling from Central to Western Canada for slaughter.

Canada’s National Farm Animal Care Council had an expert panel review the state of scientific knowledge and gaps pertaining to livestock transport in 2018. They reported that “there is currently a lack of information on the effectiveness of feed and water rest stops in mitigating the negative welfare, health and performance effects of long-distance transportation.” Most published cattle rest stop studies used stock trailers carrying 20 calves per load (Journal of Animal Science 91:5448-5454 and Journal of Animal Science 95:636-644) rather than large cattle liners with professional drivers. One study evaluated 129 commercial cattle liner loads that stopped at a Thunder Bay rest station, how long they stayed, animal loading density, and slips and falls during unloading, but not whether animals ate, rested or drank during the stay, or how it had an impact on their health after arriving at their destination (Animals 2014:62-81).

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