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CVMA Policies on Livestock

The CVMA recommends that disabled livestock be handled humanely in all situations:

 

Ambulatory Animals

 

If an otherwise healthy animal has been recently injured, and the animal is ambulatory, it should be treated, shipped directly to a state or federally inspected slaughter plant, humanely slaughtered on the farm (where state laws permit), or euthanatized. Injured, ambulatory animals should not be commingled with other animals during transport.

 

Care should be taken during loading, unloading, and handling of these animals to prevent further injury or stress.

 

Nonambulatory Animals

 

At no time is a nonambulatory animal to be dragged.

 

If an animal is down on a farm

 

  • If the animal is not in extreme distress and continues to eat and drink, the producer should contact a veterinarian for assistance and provide food, water, and appropriate shelter and nursing care to keep the animal comfortable.
  • If the animal is in extreme distress and the condition is obviously irreversible, the animal should be euthanatized immediately or humanely slaughtered on the farm (where state laws permit).

If an animal is down at a nonterminal market (e.g., sale yard or auction)

 

  • If the animal is not in extreme distress, but is disabled, treatment measures should be initiated.
  • If the animal is in extreme distress or the condition is obviously irreversible, the animal should be euthanatized immediately.

If an animal is down at a terminal market (e.g., slaughterhouse or packing plant)

 

Animals that are down should be euthanatized immediately and not taken to slaughter. However, if swine are down, and are not in extreme distress or do not have an obviously irreversible condition, they may be allowed up to 2 hours to recover. Acceptable interventions to assist in this recovery include rest, cooling, or other treatments that do not create drug residue concerns.

 

(June 2011)

Lambs’ tails may be docked for cleanliness and to minimize fly strike, but cosmetic, excessively short tail docking can lead to an increased incidence of rectal prolapse and is unacceptable for the welfare of the lamb. We recommend that lambs’ tails be docked no shorter than the level of the distal end of the caudal tail fold and at the earliest age practicable. Because tail docking causes pain and discomfort, the CVMA recommends the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate these effects, including the use of approved or AMDUCA-permissible clinically effective medications whenever possible.

 

(June 2011)

Lambs’ tails may be docked for cleanliness and to minimize fly strike, but cosmetic, excessively short tail docking can lead to an increased incidence of rectal prolapse and is unacceptable for the welfare of the lamb. We recommend that lambs’ tails be docked no shorter than the level of the distal end of the caudal tail fold and at the earliest age practicable. Because tail docking causes pain and discomfort, the CVMA recommends the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate these effects, including the use of approved or AMDUCA-permissible clinically effective medications whenever possible.

 

(June 2011)

The CVMA recommends against the use of electro-immobilization for animal restraint.

 

(January 2011)

The CVMA recognizes that castration of cattle is important for human and animal safety. Because castration causes pain and discomfort, the CVMA recommends the use and/or development of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate these effects. This includes the use of approved, clinically effective medications.

 

The procedure should be performed as early as possible, with appropriate use of analgesia and/or anesthesia.

 

Pain management should be implemented or continued for any animal showing signs of pain after the procedure.

 

(April 2015)

Ovariectomy or “spaying” in cattle is a surgical procedure performed to avoid unwanted pregnancy of animals in areas where females cannot be segregated from males and where extensive grazing conditions prohibit control of estrus through feed additives. The CVMA considers flank ovariectomy, if performed without anesthesia, to be inhumane. Ovariectomy by colpotomy is the preferred technique. When ovariectomy is deemed necessary the procedure should be performed using anesthesia and analgesics along with aseptic technique. Research leading to new or improved techniques that reduce or eliminate pain and discomfort associated with ovariectomy, or development of viable alternatives to ovariectomy, is encouraged.

 

(June 2011)

Research has shown that pigs are intelligent and social animals. It is therefore important to consider a number of factors in the housing of the sows during their productive years. Sows require adequate mobility to allow for the sow to turn around comfortably and to assume normal postures. They should be able to interact with other sows, they should have access to adequate food and water to minimize aggressive behavior, and they should have an environment that allows them to exhibit their normal behavior. The housing should provide an environment which assures proper ventilation, climate control and other physical facilities necessary to prevent injury and to promote the health of the animal. We do recognize that group housing of sows does require a higher level of animal husbandry to assure the good health and welfare of the individual animal.

 

The exception to the group housing is in the use of individual farrowing crates which are used to safeguard the piglet. These crates are used prior to birth and for a reasonable period of time after birth.

 

(July 2010)

The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), guided by The CVMA’s Eight Principles of Animal Care and Use, has thoughtfully considered Proposition 2, “The Standards for Confining Farm Animals.”

 

As experts in animal health and welfare, California veterinarians must balance scientific knowledge with ethical, philosophical, and moral considerations. While the CVMA supports the concept that animals should be allowed to turn around, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs when confined, we also believe that issues such as public health, biosecurity and good farming practices must be considered.

 

The CVMA firmly believes that any modifications of the current system should be made in consultation with California’s food animal veterinarians, the leading authorities on the health and well-being of production animals.

 

Disclaimer: The CVMA does not condone commercial advertisements about Proposition 2 that do not accurately reflect the issues addressed in the ballot initiative. We encourage voters to focus on the issues and make an informed decision.

Castration of swine can help control aggressive behavior and improve the palatability of pork. Current U.S. swine markets do not allow for mass marketing of uncastrated male pigs. Castration is a painful surgical procedure and should be performed as early as possible, preferably with analgesia and anesthesia by 14 days of age.

 

Surgical wounds should be healed prior to weaning. After 14 days of age, swine should be castrated using analgesia and anesthesia. The CVMA recommends the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate pain, including the use of approved or AMDUCA-permissible clinically effective medications whenever possible. The CVMA encourages development and implementation of practical analgesic and anesthetic protocols for surgical castration.

 

Pain management should be implemented or continued for any animal showing signs of pain after the procedure.

 

(June 2011; Rev April 2015)

The CVMA encourages improved husbandry practices to minimize the need for tail docking and teeth clipping.  When necessary, tail docking is performed to prevent tail biting and cannibalism among pigs.  Tail docking should be performed as early as possible, but by 14 days of age.

 

Teeth clipping is performed as necessary to prevent trauma to the sow’s teats and snouts of other piglets (due to the presence of sharp canine teeth at birth).

 

The CVMA recommends the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate pain, including the use of approved or AMDUCA-permissible clinically effective medications whenever possible.

 

(June 2011)

The CVMA recognizes that raising urban livestock and poultry is an increasingly prevalent practice.  To ensure the welfare of these animals, owners must be aware of the importance of behavioral needs, proper veterinary care, husbandry (including housing, nutrition, predator control, sanitation) and zoonotic and non-zoonotic disease.  The CVMA encourages owners to consult their state laws and local ordinances prior to ownership.

 

(April 2012)

Individual housing during the neonatal period facilitates sanitation, disease control and individual attention for observation and treatment. Individual housing must allow the calf to turn around comfortably and to assume normal postures.

 

Calves should be housed in groups by 10 weeks of age to facilitate normal behaviors, including social interaction. Like individual housing, group housing must allow all calves to turn around comfortably and to assume normal postures.

 

Calves must be fed diets that provide adequate energy, protein and minerals to maintain good health and positive growth. Diets must be balanced to prevent nutritional deficiencies and their consequences, including but not limited to iron deficiency with subsequent anemia. Water must be provided from birth. Dry feed must be provided for rumen development and to allow the normal process of rumination. All calves must be fed colostrum after birth.

 

Housing must be ventilated to provide fresh air and to prevent buildup of ammonia or pathogens. Floors and bedding must be clean, dry and maintained to prevent injuries.

 

(January 2010)