Goat Code of Practice – Progress Update

March, 2021

A draft version of the goat Code of Practice was submitted to NFACC in late fall, 2020. Once translated and formatted both the Code and the Goat Scientific Committee Report were released to the public for feedback on December 18th, 2020. The public comment period concluded on February 22, 2021.

311 Individual English submissions, 10 individual French submissions, and 14 group submissions were received. According to the self-identifications provided, 41% of respondents were animal welfare advocates, 24% were goat farmers, and 23% were members of the general public. Most respondents indicated a British Columbia (61%) or Ontario (18%) place of residence.

The Code Development Committee very much appreciates the contributions of all! The CDC is now planning to reconvene in March to begin the process of carefully reviewing and considering all submissions.

November, 2020

Since September, the Code Development Committee has held several online meetings to firm up all aspects of the draft Code of Practice for goats. The committee is now pleased to announce that the public comment period for this Code will start on December 18, 2020 and run until February 22, 2021. On December 18th, all stakeholders will be able to access the draft Code through the online system at https://www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/goats. A press release will also announce the beginning of the public comment period.

The Scientific Committee’s research report on priority welfare issues is now finalized following a peer review, and it will be released publicly when the draft Code is released for its public comment period.

Beyond the findings of the report and the knowledge and hands-on experience of Code Committee members, the draft Code was informed by the results of NFACC’s 2019 survey asking stakeholders for their top-of-mind thoughts on goat welfare. The public comment period is a critically important second outreach to all stakeholders and one that will allow direct input on proposed requirements and recommendations developed through the Code Committee’s nearly two-year collaborative effort.

September, 2020

In July 2020 the goat Code Development Committee [CDC] – in an effort to rebound from earlier Covid-19 interruptions – embarked on a rigorous schedule of virtual sub-committee and regular CDC meetings. Over the course of three months, the CDC has made steady progress on all facets of the Code development process. With the completion of the goat Scientific Committee Report (which will be publicly released when the draft Code is released for its public comment period in December), the CDC has also been able to review and draw upon key research material. During the course of regular, two-hour, “Weekly Wednesday” sessions, Code committee leads have presented the entire CDC with updates, revisions, and proposed content material (developed by their respective sub-committees) regarding their respective Code sections. In turn, all sub-committees have received constructive feedback from the entire CDC that have been reviewed and integrated into all respective chapters.

Weekly collaborations have enabled the CDC to carefully integrate, balance, and reinforce respective sections of all Code chapters. Weekly sessions have also contributed to the development of a highly efficient working relationship among CDC members. While one issue was forwarded to the NFACC Executive for content-related guidance, the committee has been very successful in achieving consensual positions on even complex/delicate matters.

The Code is now rapidly nearing completion (i.e., with regard to the version that will be forwarded to NFACC in advance of the 60 day Public Comment Period commencing in December). With the Code committee having invested a great deal of time, thought, and deliberation in a collective effort to develop an updated Code (i.e., one that strikes a progressive balance between philosophical idealism and pragmatic realism), it will be very gratifying to receive and review public feedback in the New Year.

July, 2020

Following a Covid -19 related postponement, the goat Code Development Committee [CDC] has resumed regular on-line meetings to present, review, and discuss prospective content for inclusion in the forthcoming revised Goat Code of Practice.

From July through September, sub-committees will meet to further refine respective Code sections for presentation and review by the entire CDC. Weekly meetings will provide the CDC with an opportunity to review all prepared content. Following each meeting, recommended edits and/or proposed insertions/additions will be reviewed by the respective sub-committees and Code manager. All chapter sections will be reviewed by the CDC at least twice before the end of September.

After an initial NFACC orientation session to familiarize committee members with a designated on-line meeting platform, weekly meetings began with a review update of the Euthanasia and Handling sections. Those are to be followed by a review of the Pre-Transport and Feed & Water sections. Weekly updates and reviews will continue through the summer. Throughout September, the committee will put its final touches on the Code and submit a draft version to NFACC for preparation toward the Public Comment Period [December 2020 - January 2021].        

With the recent completion of the peer review process, the Scientific Committee [SC] has been meeting to discuss and address recommended edits/clarifications/supplements to the draft version of the Scientific Committee report. Once all review recommendations have been addressed, the chair of the Scientific Committee (also a full member of the Code Development Committee) will provide a presentation of the report to the CDC. In turn, the CDC will review the summary findings for content and neutrality; namely, that all “Priority Welfare Issues” have been addressed as anticipated and that the SC has refrained from offering the CDC any explicit recommendations regarding Code content. Once available, the CDC will be able to rely on the Scientific Report to help inform all chapters in the Code. 

May, 2020

Owing to Covid-19 travel restrictions, face-to-face meeting # 4 –– that had been arranged for April 2020 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – was initially postponed and then subsequently cancelled. In turn, members of the respective Code sub-committees have continued to correspond among themselves in preparation for the resumption of more collective interactions involving the entire Code committee (i.e., using virtual meeting formats). To this end, for example, arrangements have now been completed for the commissioning of professional illustrations that will be included in the Code to provide accompanying visual support related to textual descriptions, requirements, and recommended practices.     

Important advances have also been made with regard to the work of the Code Scientific Committee. The draft version of the Scientific Report is now complete. It has also been forwarded for scientific peer review. Over the course of approximately four to six weeks, a number of highly qualified animal science specialists will rigorously review the document for clarity, scholarship, and scope. Once returned, any or all recommended edits will be addressed by the Scientific Committee and the research writer. Upon completion, the report will be carefully reviewed by all members of the Code committee and will be used to provide guidance on priority welfare issues.

Third Meeting January 29 & 30th, 2020

The Goat Code Development Committee held their third meeting on January 29th and 30th in Toronto. 

Over two busy days, Code committee members engaged in an array of activities. Members were updated on the highly productive pace of research and writing affiliated with the work of the goat Code Scientific Committee. Prior to the meeting, draft scientific report content on many topics covered during the session, was made contingently available for review by members of various sub-committees.   

Central to the meeting, however, were thorough reviews and committee exchanges revolving around four draft sections of the new Code: goat “Health”, “Husbandry”, “Euthanasia”, and “Housing”. All sections had been developed and drafted in advance by members of each of the respective sub-committees and were then delivered by the respective sub-committee leads.

In addition, Code committee leads affiliated with the goat “Feed and Water”, “On-Farm Transport”, and “Emergency Management & Preparedness” sections delivered updates and invited further committee input (i.e., following initial presentations made during the second Code meeting; October 2 & 3). In all cases, collective committee engagement resulted in valuable deliberations, shared knowledge, and respective edits to each section.   

In addition, Code members were reminded of the results of the “top-of-mind” welfare concerns provided to the committee at the outset of the Code via a public survey on goat related welfare concerns.

Informal, yet highly informative, presentations were made to the committee regarding (i) extensive goat production practices on Canada’s western prairies and (ii) the use of NFACC Codes in accord with provincial investigation and enforcement procedures.  

In advance of meeting #4 (April, 2020 in Saskatoon) all Code sub-committees will continue to refine their respective sections (via conference calls and electronic communications) before presenting updated sections to the entire Code committee for further input and related discussion. Meeting #4 will also include a review of the entire draft scientific report and will begin to address the forthcoming public comment period (Fall, 2020).    

Second Meeting October 2 and 3, 2019

The Goat Code Development Committee held their second meeting on October 2 and 3 in Ottawa.

Over two days, committee members engaged in an array of activities. Central were three draft section reviews presented by the Code sub-committee leads affiliated with the “Feed and Water”, “On-Farm Transport”, and “Emergency Management and Preparedness” teams. All reports were conducted in a round-table format which enabled committee members to ask questions and to provide feedback. All sessions elicited a great deal of highly constructive exchanges. All sessions also were also infused with reminders/reiterations as to the “top-of-mind” welfare concerns provided the committee at the outset of the Code via a public survey on goat related welfare concerns.

In addition, all members of the “Accommodations/housing”, “Animal health”, “Euthanasia”, and “Animal husbandry” sub-committees held a series of brief, face-to face discussions. The intent of these break-out sessions was to enable each team to prepare draft outlines for their respective sections, and to make plans for future communications and other chapter related development considerations. All four of these sub-committees will address the entire Code committee during our next meeting.

Throughout the meeting, presentations were also made with regard to the current activities of the goat Code Scientific Committee [as they review the available literature on the Code’s collectively agreed to “Priority Welfare Issues”, the new CFIA Health of Animals Transport regulations (and their relevance for the new goat Code of Practice), and internationally available goat welfare standards that Code sub-committees will wish to review for prospective content considerations toward the development of the new Code. Brief, but insightful presentations, were also made regarding two production-related facets of the goat industry (fibre and dairy).   

All Code Sub-Committees and the Scientific Committee will work with the Code Manager over the forthcoming weeks (via conference calls and electronic communications) in order to edit and further tighten all respective drafts going forward. The next meeting of the Goat Code Development committee will take place in late January.

First Meeting May 24 and 25, 2019

The Goat Code Development Committee and Goat Scientific Committee held their first meeting on May 24 and 25th in Quebec City. Over two days, members were formally introduced to one another and were presented with a thorough overview of the NFACC Code development process. Members were also provided with informative insights into the goat sector in Canada, presented with the results of a public survey on goat related welfare concerns [https://www.nfacc.ca/resources/codes-of-practice/goat/EN_FinalGoatReport02July2019.pdf], and toured a goat dairy facility.

Perhaps most importantly, members of both committees reached a consensus on the “Priority Welfare Issues” that the Goat Scientific Committee will be asked to review and report upon within twelve months. In particular, the Scientific Committee will develop a report synthesizing the results of research relating to the following animal welfare issues: 

  • End-of-life management
  • Lameness (Hoof trimming, Nutritional causes of lameness)
  • Optimizing kid health (Optimizing passive transfer of immunity)
  • Painful procedures (Prevention, Protocols/strategies, Pre- and post-op procedures,Disbudding, Dehorning, Horn tipping, and Castration)
  • Space allowance (Feeder and waterer space allowance, Housing density and indicators of adverse effects)
  • Natural behaviours (Positive states, Enrichment)