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Industry Embraces Certified Livestock Transport Training

by 5m Editor
28 June 2008, at 3:11pm

CANADA - A relatively new training program for those involved in the transportation of livestock is being well accepted by Canada’s trucking and livestock industries.

The Certified Livestock Transport (CLT) program was developed by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) in association with its sister animal care associations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario for livestock transporters, shippers, and receivers.

The program was launched in May 2007 and has been promoted to livestock truckers across Canada.

“We have an advisory team that consists of industry, industry groups, government, bringing them all together and teaching truckers how to deal with animals,“ says Mikki Shatosky, the Certified Livestock Transport program coordinator with AFAC.

Program Targets All Livestock Handlers

CLT instructor Ken McDonald, with Supreme Auction Services, adds, “The targeted group is basically both producers and commercial transporters of livestock.“

In April the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan (FACS) announced it would be providing trucking firms access to the program.

Livestock Transporters Face Increased Scrutiny

McDonald maintains, “Times have changed in the transportation business and we need to be very cognizant and very aware of the care of the animals in transport. The reality is important and the perception is important. It’s really time to take a look at these things and make sure that we’re on top of the issues and make sure the industry is looking after itself.“

“I think public scrutiny with animal handling has really come into the limelight,“ observes Brian Heitman, the trucking manager with Cor Van Raay Farms.

He observes situations where various groups in the U.S. have recorded incidents that have occurred have increased the level of scrutiny on the whole industry.

“I don’t think in Canada we have a lot of issues but it’s always good to nip those issues before they occur.“

Southern Alberta Feedlot to Make CLT Certification Mandatory

Cor Van Raay Farms is one of several livestock operations that have adopted the Certified Livestock Transport program for training drivers. The southern Alberta company has set June 1, 2008 as the date by which all truckers hauling to or from its facilities will be required to be certified under the program.

Heitman notes, “There has been a lot of pressure in the industry to improve handling techniques and definitely here at Van Raay Farms we’re always striving to improve our techniques. That’s the biggest force of why we’ve decided to get on board with the CLT program.“

The training program consists of a package of modules. The core content covers the general transportation or relocation of livestock and then individual modules address issues to specific to beef, hogs, horses, sheep and poultry.

There are 58 trainers at this point and about 160 truckers have been trained under the program.

Content Focuses on Established Guidelines

Shatosky says the program promotes the guidelines developed by industry on the relocation of livestock. including cleaning and preparing trucks for livestock, pulling up to the docks, loading, unloading, helping the shippers and receivers load animals, the laws and regulations across Canada and going into the United States. It has information on crossing the border and re-entry back into Canada. Biosecurity is also covered in the program.

McDonald adds, “The new CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) regulations are looked at. We look at animals that are fit for transport and how to select them.“

He stresses the drivers have a say on which animals can be loaded and which can’t so it’s important that they’re aware of that. “We look at accidents involving animals, what’s the driver’s responsibility, how does he act and react in those situations? We look at loading densities, weather factors, loading facilities, that kind of thing,“ he adds.

Once the course has been completed, there is a final examination that must be passed to receive certification. The exam is sent to AFAC in Calgary for grading and successful drivers are issued certificates and wallet size cards.

CLT Training Well Received

Shatosky says the program has been really well received. She believes the decision by Cor Van Raay Farms to make certification mandatory for delivering to its facilities is huge. “They see the benefit of the program, having the truckers [be] able to work with the livestock better and more humanely and quietly helps the whole loading, unloading, relocation process.“

McDonald agrees, the interest has been exceptional. “We have had some major carriers that are on the road to get all their drivers certified. I’ve trained individual carriers as well, people with one or two trucks and producers. I’ve had a broad spectrum and the interest has been excellent.“

Driver Experience Varies

The level of experience among new drivers will vary from company to company.

Heitman notes, “Most companies do set forth a standard of having three years experience, at least, driving a truck before handling livestock and I think that’s pretty much the norm that most livestock carriers are looking for.“

That and a willingness to learn more about safe handling techniques and safe handling of livestock, he says.

Heitman admits Cor Van Raay Farms has not yet noticed a significant change as a result of the training program. However he reasons, that’s because the number of certified drivers has not increased substantially so far and because Van Raay Farms’ in house drivers are already extremely experienced.

However, he observes, it has made the drivers more aware and stimulated more conversation about incidents and how to avoid them, especially with the new drivers that come on board.

McDonald stresses, “This is an industry led program.“

He believes, “It raises the professionalism of the drivers and it gives a standardization of the industry.“

Additional Support Available for Difficult Situations

In addition to the training, Shatosky adds, “There’s a whole support system that’s being set up. If truckers do have any questions or concerns they can call in to our 1-800 number which is 1-800-506-2273. If they have any concerns about the livestock they’re picking up or delivering, if they’re on the road and they’ve run into any problems, they can call this line. They will be directed to help or who ever answers the phone will be able to help them.“

For more information on the Certified Livestock Transport program, people are encouraged to contact their provincial animal care association. They can contact Ken McDonald directly at 1-306-695-0121 or they can visit SupremeAuctions.ca .

5m Editor