At the provincial level, farmed animals—including dairy cows—are excluded from the main protections of the Animal Welfare and Safety Act, provided they are treated according to standard industry practices.
Yet some of these, such as the tethering of cows, are inherently incompatible with basic animal welfare.
At the federal level, the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) publishes codes of practice.
These nationally developed guidelines set out minimum acceptable standards for the care and handling of animals raised for human consumption. They are not legally binding, but they do reflect industry consensus on what is and is not acceptable for animal welfare. However, NFACC is primarily made up of members from the industry itself. For example, of the 21 members of the committee responsible for the review of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, only one was from an animal welfare organization!
The Codes are revised periodically, a process that includes a public consultation period.