Development of a System to Protect Animal Welfare at Livestock Community Sales

Penny Lawlis, Humane Standards Officer, Animal Health and Welfare Branch, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Michael Draper, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)

The orderly marketing of livestock through livestock community sales is an integral part of the livestock industry in Ontario. Good animal welfare throughout the sale process involves several stakeholders who each have an important role to play. In Ontario, veterinarians and lay inspectors are appointed under provincial legislation (Livestock Community Sales Act (LCSA)) to oversee animal welfare at livestock sales on a daily basis. The LCSA provides protection for animals by requiring that all animals are inspected by lay inspectors and that the lay inspectors identify and segregate compromised animals; appointed veterinarians are then required to examine these segregated animals and determine the best animal welfare outcome (i.e., disposition). Since 2007, OMAFRA has provided appointees with training on animal welfare, captive bolt euthanasia, identifying compromised animals, the use of animal based measures for assessing and communicating about animal welfare as well as providing an overview of the relevant legislation including information on humane transport. In addition, OMAFRA introduced a system for reporting animal welfare incidents which included reporting incidents to the appropriate agency including the OSPCA and the CFIA as well as commodity groups. Veterinarians responded positively to the training and subsequently requested documents to improve decision making around the disposition of animals. Consequently, a comprehensive guide for the disposition of compromised animals was developed. Concurrent with the training and incident reporting, OMAFRA established a system for tracking incident reports and identifying common conditions which resulted in poor welfare outcomes. Data from 2007 to 2011 have been analyzed and information used to inform the development of a revised disposition guide.

Key Learnings:
1. Training is required across stakeholders to effectively improve farm animal welfare outcomes;
2. Veterinarians and others in the livestock industry benefit from the clearly defined standards;
3. Communication between agencies responsible for animal welfare is critical to establishing and maintaining animal welfare standards.


Penny Lawlis

  • Master of Science in Farm Animal Welfare and Behaviour from the University of Guelph, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario and Veterinary Technology Diploma from the Centralia College of Agricultural Technology;
  • Provincial representative on the National Farmed Animal Care Council (NFACC) and member of pig, layer and broiler meat Code Development Committees and on-farm technical animal care assessments committees;
  • Routinely audits handling and stunning at provincial abattoirs and sales barns;
  • Delivers training in animal handling and stunning to several segments of the livestock industry;
  • Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PACCO) certified auditor;
  • Involved in several research projects through the University of Guelph looking at novel on-farm euthanasia techniques for pigs and turkeys as well as animal care assessment;
  • Received a Queen’s Jubilee Award from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies;
  • Currently on the faculty of the University of Guelph where she teaches a graduate level course on practical animal welfare assessment.

Michael Draper
Mike Draper works as the Livestock Community Sales Coordinator for Animal Health and Welfare Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Mike coordinates inspection and regulatory standards for livestock markets in Ontario. In his role he addresses issues related to the transport, movement, disease control and welfare of livestock marketed through livestock auctions in Ontario.

Mike has been involved in a number of animal welfare projects including development of a disposition guide for veterinarians to use at auctions, euthanasia certification training, the development of the decision trees and the Caring for Compromised Cattle booklet published by Food and Farm Care Ontario. Mike is the provincial enforcement representative on the code development committees for the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Sheep and Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Veal Cattle.