Animal Care & Handling

Animal welfare is more than ensuring animals are raised in comfortable surroundings.

Our concern for care continues through the entire value chain from farmgate to the plate including transporting of our livestock.  Producers are committed to raising high quality pork for their local and international customers and the overall health and well-being of the animals is very important.  Canada's Pig Code of Practice was updated in 2014 to reflect enhanced animal care, housing and transport protocols.

Pig Code of Practice            Highlights of the updated Pig Code

Animal Care Assessment (ACA)

Developed by producers, researchers and government officials, and led by the Canadian Pork Council, the ACA is an auditable, educational assessment tool that provides CQA® validated producers with the ability to evaluate and improve, if necessary, animal care in their production units. Focusing on assessing the care of animals, appropriate housing and equipment, in-barn environment and stockmanship, ACA will assist producers in developing a welfare assessment for your farm.

ACA is a mandatory component of the CQA® on-farm food safety program as many practices critical to ensuring food safety are also essential to good animal care. Demonstrating its commitment to quality animal care is a hallmark of the Canadian pork industry.

Standards for Humane Handling of Pigs

It is completely unacceptable for unfit animals - those that are sick, injured or would suffer unduly if not handled properly - to be transported to market. These animals require immediate action. Legislation and animal welfare standards in Saskatchewan establish standards for the euthanasia or slaughter of unfit hogs. Producers and others who handle animals must carry out the necessary due diligence. This is not only to ensure they understand their responsibilities, but also to demonstrate they have carried them out. Read the document.

  • Standards for Humane Handling of Compromised Pigs
  • Standards for Handling Unfit Swine
  • Conditions That Result in Condemnation
  • Health Conditions That are Painful and Require Special Handling
  • Sows and Boars
  • Euthanasia Guidelines
  • Federal Acts
  • Provincial Acts

Farm Animal Care Organizations

Group Housing

Researchers have developed the National Sow Housing Conversion Project website website to provide hog producers with the latest  information  on transitioning from conventional stall housing to group housing of gestating sows.  In response to Canada's new Pig Code of Practice, which requires all new sow gestation barns to use group housing. A multi-disciplinary multi-institutional team of scientists and engineers, working in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc, has launched this site to provide information for producers considering building new or converting existing sow barns to group housing.

Ontario Pork has also developed a four part video series on making the switch to group sow housing. The videos feature Ontario production units (150-350 sow operations) that have converted barns to include loose penning.

The producers' experiences with the construction process and the care and handling of the animals after the conversion are highlighted. The designs of each system takes into account normal sow behaviour and the steps taken to minimize sow aggression relative to access to food, water, space and resting areas.

Making the Switch to Group Housing Videos:

Smart Pig Handling

The Smart Pig Handling Video series produced by Manitoba Pork, provides training to new herdspersons on how to safely and effectively handle pigs while minimizing stress on themselves and their animals.

Producers can contact their provincial pork organization (in Canada) for an extended version of the training, which can be customized to their farm type. To order a copy of the video series in Saskatchewan call (306) 343-3502 or email

Development of this video was supported by Alberta Pork, Sask Pork, Ontario Pork and EPQ. It was also supported by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, and the Government of Alberta. This project’s main support came from the FCC Ag Safety Fund administered by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association with funding from Farm Credit Canada. 

Videos Available:    

Chapter 1:  Basic Pig Behavior
Chapter 2:  Principles of Pig Handling
Chapter 3:  Handling Sows and Boars
Chapter 4:  Handling of Piglets and Nursery Pigs
Chapter 5:  Handling Growers and Market Hogs
Chapter 6:  Loading and Unloading

Additional information on Animal Welfare, Handling and Transportation