Transfer of Care Documents

Emma Cross

On February 20, 2020, amendments were made to the Health of Animals Regulations: Part XII: Transport of Animals. While the name of this legislation may not ring a bell, most producers caught word of the reduction in maximum allowed intervals without feed, water, and rest for animals in transport. However, this is far from the whole story.

Since the amendments came into effect on February 20, 2020, any animal left at a slaughter facility or assembly centre (i.e. auction market, assembly yard, or independent holding facility associated with a slaughter establishment) had to be accompanied by a written transfer of care document. This document ensures that the individual responsible for the care of the animal(s) in question is clearly identified at all times, which in turn defines who is accountable for welfare decisions.

For some producers, the point at which this regulation came into effect is a source of confusion. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) implemented a two year compliance promotion period for the enforcement of the new maximum feed, water, and rest intervals. This means that until February 20, 2022, CFIA is focusing on education and awareness rather than strict enforcement of the new regulations. However, contrary to what many producers have been told, this does not apply to transfer of care documents. That is, producers are currently required by law to implement this documentation.

The guidelines for these written documents are quite general. There is no prescriptive format for the document, but instead, CFIA provides a list of required information to be included. The necessary information includes:

  1. The names of the transporting company and driver;
  2. The receiving company and representative;
  3. The condition of the animal(s) on arrival;
  4. The date, time, and place of the last feed, water, and rest;
  5. The date, time, and place of arrival;
  6. Notes regarding animal welfare concerns, dead animals found, and resulting actions;
  7. Acknowledgement from the receiver indicating receipt of the animal(s) and acceptance of the responsibility for care.

Producers do not have to provide transfer of care documents to commercial carriers, because responsibility for animal care is already transferred to the transporter upon release of the animals by the producer under the Health of Animals Regulations. As a result, a driver can refuse to drop off a load due to animal welfare concerns, since they are responsible for the care of the animals at that time. Similarly, receivers should document any welfare concerns on arrival to avoid being held accountable for issues that occurred before they were responsible for the care of the animal(s). Notably, CFIA states that this is an important step, because it helps receivers avoid declining a load and prolonging non-compliant animal transport to avert blame for the welfare issues.

Transfer of care documents should be kept on file for two years. This rule is important to tracking accountability for care in case of a welfare investigation. Read the amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations here.

Luckily, VBP+ provides a template for a transfer of care document that is available to all producers, whether or not they are trained and/or certified in the VBP+ program. This helps producers save time and get their cattle passed on quickly and responsibly!

Find the VBP+ Transfer of Care Record template here.
Find the VBP+ Transfer of Care Record template here. Check out the record example here.

Check out all the record templates and examples that VBP+ offers here.

Potential hazards hidden in plain sight

Emma Cross

consumptionforeignobjectsfactsheet-thumbnailForeign objects can present a food safety issue for consumers who purchase meat products from affected animals later on down the supply chain, and can also impact animal health and welfare prior to slaughter. Luckily, foreign objects are a risk which producers can mitigate on-farm.

In most cases, foreign objects enter animal carcasses in one of two ways. Cattle can either consume them, or they can penetrate the hide and end up lodging within tissues.

When cattle consume foreign objects, the material usually gets caught in the reticulum, where it can irritate the tissue within this chamber and cause pain for the animal. At this stage, cattle present a condition called hardware disease, which causes them to perform poorly and show general signs of discomfort such as a depressed state, poor appetite, and sedentary behavior.

Unfortunately, there are many common foreign objects found on-farm which cattle can easily consume. For example, metal cables on fences or feed bunks can be chewed and break if poorly maintained. Alternatively, fragments of metal or other material left on the ground or deposited in feed from processing equipment are easily consumed by cattle.

The best way for producers to prevent the risk of hardware disease, and its associated food safety concern, is to prevent access to foreign objects. If the operation processes feed, magnets or scalpers can be used to remove scrap metal from feed before it is offered to cattle. Where possible, producers should avoid using materials that could easily produce hardware, such as metal fence cables. If this is not possible, producers should regularly maintain equipment and facilities to avoid fragments becoming accessible to animals. Finally, regular inspection of feeding areas for foreign objects and monitoring of cattle and facilities for incidence and new hazards is key.

In other cases, cattle do not eat the foreign object, but rather rub against one such that it penetrates their hide. If these foreign objects become lodged in muscle and the producer is not aware, meat containing these foreign objects can enter the food chain and lead to consumer distrust and potential injury. In some cases, recalls or refusals of carcasses or portions of a carcass at processing plants may occur.


Sources of foreign objects that can penetrate cattle hides are relatively similar to those that can cause hardware disease. Scrap metal, derelict buildings, and poorly maintained equipment are easy for cattle to rub against and pick up metal fragments. However, a few common sources are unique to this route of entry. Buckshot or other shrapnel in areas where birds are hunted can enter the animal. Alternatively, metal or hard plastic rollers used for cattle to scratch can deposit small fragments in the hide.

Much like the hazards, the solutions to foreign objects entering animal hides are very similar to those that prevent the consumption of foreign objects. Removing scrap metal and old equipment and restricting access to derelict buildings, metal or hard plastic rollers, or bird hunting areas will aid in preventing access to fragments that could enter the hide. Regular maintenance of equipment and facilities will also reduce risk. Finally, while preventive measures should be emphasized, producers should monitor and document incidence in cattle to avoid entry of foreign objects into the food supply chain.

Regardless of the route of entry, handling foreign objects with cattle relies on the same basic principle: producers should prioritize prevention and maintain good maintenance and inspection to avoid food safety hazards entering the food supply chain.

To brush up on foreign objects, check out VBP+’s two fact sheets on Consumption of Foreign Objects and Penetration of the Hide by Foreign Objects.