Bison Code – Progress Updates

Meeting 7 – March 9 and 10, 2017 

The bison Code development committee held their 7th and final meeting on March 9 & 10th. The focus of the meeting was to conduct a careful review of all comments offered during the public comment period (November 21/16 to January 22/17). While the PCP did not elicit a large number of responses, there were many valuable comments and recommendations put forward.  

Prior to the meeting, section sub-committees reviewed all comments offered on a chapter by chapter basis. This involved a large number of calls, emails and other forms of discussion. Each sub-committee then prepared a short presentation on proposed amendments to the Code for committee consideration and feedback as a whole.

Over the course of the two-day meeting, all sections of the Code were carefully reviewed and discussed. In the end, a number of recommended amendments were adopted on a consensual basis. In addition to minor amendments to the main chapters, edits were made to the introduction and to some appendices while a new glossary was reviewed and approved. The Code will now be updated and reviewed a final time by all committee members. Once completed, the Code will be readied for publication, release and distribution.       

Meeting 6 – September 21 and 22, 2016 

The bison Code development committee met for the 6th and final face-to-face meeting prior to the forthcoming public comment period. The meeting involved a systematic review of all draft Code sections with committee members each offering prepared comments and recommended edits throughout.   

Being the last meeting before public comment, committee members engaged in a considerable amount of discussion and made a number of minor adjustments to the draft. In the end, and after extended conversations, the meeting adjourned with a consensus on the draft (and with arrangements in place for minor administrative details to be concluded shortly thereafter).        

The Code will now be finalized, reviewed once more by all members, and then submitted to NFACC for preparation prior to its release for public feedback. The committee will meet again in March, 2017 to review input received during the public review period and to finalize the Code.  

Meeting 5 - June 2 and 3, 2016

The Code committee held a very productive fifth meeting. The Chair of the Science Committee presented the Science Committee Report. Minor edits were recommended. The report will be re-presented to the Code committee in short order.   

Thorough reviews were conducted with regard to bison feed and water plus herd management. Final or near-to-final revisions were made with regard to pre-transport, on-farm euthanasia, handling (including invasive practices), animal health and animal environment. Appendices related to the prevention of escaped bison, body condition scoring and orphaned calves were also discussed.

Code sub-committees will continue to review and edit chapter materials and hold conference calls prior to the next meeting scheduled for the fall.     

This will be the sixth and final Code committee meeting prior to the 60-day public comment period.

Meeting 4 - February 25 and 26, 2016

The Code development committee held a very busy fourth meeting. Final and near-to-final revisions were made with regard to the transport, animal environment and euthanasia chapters. Appendices related to the prevention of escaped bison and body condition scoring were also discussed at length and in detail. Discussions were continued with regard to animal health and animal handling (including flight zone considerations and invasive practices) with plans to continue these exchanges via teleconference(s) prior to the next meeting scheduled for June 2 and 3rd.

Meeting 3 - November 24 and 25, 2015

The Code development committee held a very productive third meeting. In addition to receiving a detailed update from the science committee – who held concurrent meetings in the same venue -- the Code committee carefully reviewed and made important progress in key areas. Significant advances were made toward achieving consensus on dehorning and castration. Notable advances were made on required and recommended criteria regarding fitness for transport as well as animal health and animal environment. Detailed discussions were conducted regarding bison flight zones and dealing with escaped animals. Broader discussions were held on the relationship of the Code to Canadian law, producer welfare in relation to animal well-being and ensuring that the Code reflects a national scope. The next meeting is scheduled for February 25-26.

Meeting 2 Sept 19 and 20, 2015

The Code Development Committee’s second meeting focused on developing two chapters of the revised Code: transportation and handling practices. Sub-committees were finalized with regard to all remaining chapters and an update was provided on the progress of the Science Committee.

Members received a brief presentation on existing transport regulations in Canada (which included an overview of the Transport Code of Practice) and a summary of recently published, international humane organizational standards on bison care. Members also received a talk (along with slides and various video presentations) on welfare related considerations when handling bison. Sub-committees will continue to engage in increasingly frequent teleconference meetings going forward. 

Meeting 1 - March 12 and 13, 2015

The first meeting of the bison CDC was a 1 ½ day session held in Ponoka, Alberta. The main objectives were to:

  • Provide an opportunity for CDC and SC members to meet and dialogue
  • Familiarize CDC members with the NFACC Code Process, and the roles of the CDC, the chair, its members, and the Code Development Secretariat
  • Finalize the Priority Welfare Issues for bison, from which the SC will develop a report on the available research
  • Establish guidelines on how the committee will function
  • Agree on a skeleton Code of Practice outline
  • Agree on next meeting dates.

The first day of the meeting focused on a review of the Code development process that will guide the Code review and update for the bison Code.

A finalized list of PWI’s was agreed upon by both committees. Over the next 12 months, the SC will conduct a review of the available scientific literature in the following areas:  

  • The effects of seasonality on the nutritional and mineral requirements for bison (specifically heifers)
  • Appropriate euthanasia/slaughter methods on farm and during field harvests
  • Bison behaviour and body language
  • Requirements for wallowing, rubbing, bedding, shade and wind protection
  • Pain recognition, timely interventions and the identification of potentially painful experiences and management practices.

A draft outline of the Code Table of Contents was also prepared. Preliminary steps were taken to secure resource materials that will assist the CDC in preparing sections of the Code that will not be addressed by the SC. The next meeting of the CDC was scheduled for September.