More than two million farm animals are slaughtered in Canada every day

Every day in Canada, more than 2.3 million farm animals are slaughtered for human consumption. In 2022, 854 million farm animals died Position. This figure is 22 times more than the country’s population.

“These are amazing numbers, Me Sophie Gaillard, Acting CEO of the Montreal SPCA. When you enter such high numbers, it is quite difficult to imagine what more than 800 million animals a year can look like. A reality that is certainly unattainable in its enormity and often unknown to consumers.

The numbers keep increasing over the years. In 2019, the previous record 833 million cattle were slaughtered in the country, before experiencing a slight slowdown the following year due to the COVID-19 pandemic (803 million). In 2021, the pace increased, with more than 825 million animals slaughtered domestically.

In 2022, Canada slaughtered 29 million more animals than the previous year, or even 151 million more than a decade ago.

It’s mass destruction.

This estimate, calculated from monthly and weekly slaughter reports from Agriculture Canada and the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, is huge but incomplete. Indeed, the figures released by the ministry do not take into account animals lost on farms, animals lost in transport, and male chicks of laying hens born because they have no value in the food chain.

More chicken

But although the number of slaughtered animals follows a rising curve, a decreasing trend is observed in the consumption of red meat. Annual beef consumption in Canada has fallen from 38 kg (cut weight) per capita in 1980 to 24 kg in 2021. The same applies to pork consumption, which fell from 32 kg to 19 kg per Canadian over the same period.

“The consumption of pork and beef decreased by about a third [depuis les années 1980]M showse Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, an organization of lawyers working to give animals a legal voice in Canada. But people replace these meats with chicken. Since chickens are much smaller than other farm animals, you have to kill a lot more of them to get the same amount of meat.

This is one of the reasons why the most commonly slaughtered animals are broiler chickens, that is, commercial broiler chickens. In 2022, more than 778 million young chickens were slaughtered in the country, accounting for 91% of the heads slaughtered in Canada this year.

More than 24 million laying hens and breeder hens were also killed to be turned into chicken meat, broth and other by-products.

These astronomical numbers for broiler slaughter are similar in Quebec. According to data from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, more than 194 million broiler chickens were slaughtered in Quebec in 2022, or a quarter of all chickens slaughtered in the country during the year. The province slaughtered about 10 million more chickens than in 2021.

Of course, industrial production methods must be improved.

However, a significant portion of the red meat produced in Canada does not stay in the country. For example, in 2021, 45.5% of Canadian beef production was exported. Of the 2.2 million tons of pork produced in Canada in 2021, 1.5 million tons or 68.7% were exported.

Quebec also accounts for a large portion of these exports, particularly farmed hogs—the province is Canada’s largest exporter. In fact, according to Quebec government data, Canada supplies nearly 40% of its pork exports.

is a source of controversy

These monumental data on the slaughter of animals do not cause debate. While some see livestock farming as a necessity to feed a growing population, others see it as a source of preventable suffering.

Me Alain Roy, a professor of animal rights at the University of Montreal, is certainly part of this second category. “This is a mass murder […] it shows the scale of the disaster in terms of animal ethics and the environment,” thunders Blue, reminding us that animals are sentient beings, that is, they feel pain.

“Are my food choices worth the animals’ suffering? For me, the answer is clearly no,” he says, noting that many people practice willful blindness. “A consumer who wants his steak will do anything to overcome the cognitive dissonance that makes him so uncomfortable,” he said. He will convince himself that the animals will end up on his plate, that’s the way it is, and we do everything we can to make sure they don’t suffer. »

But for DD That doesn’t mean meat consumption should be demonized, says veterinarian Caroline Kilsdonk, who specializes in bioethics. “I think it’s important to maintain the ability to dialogue,” he emphasizes. However, proponents of antispeciesist and abolitionist ideologies have “a very strong point of view” and this can lead to a polarization of debate that proves counterproductive to raising ethical questions, he believes.

“For them, it is completely immoral to kill an animal to eat and use it […] but we cannot enter into a discussion with these people to try to show them that this is moral.” However, the vet believes that it is perfectly “logical” that we as a society tend to reduce the consumption of meat accompanied by the improvement of the living conditions of farm animals. “There is no doubt that industrial production methods need to be improved,” he says.

From extensive model to intensive model

Intensive farming emerged in the 1950s, taking over from extensive farming – which advocated raising animals outdoors with a pasture-based diet. “After the Second World War, a rather rapid intensification process took place. We looked for ways to bring the animals back into a more compact space and more productively,” explains Jamie Dallaire, a professor specializing in animal behavior and welfare at Laval University’s Department of Animal Sciences.

A new production method that allows meeting the growing demand for food for human consumption by achieving an increase in productivity. Animals were kept indoors at higher densities and fed with forage well outside the pasture. A development that raises animal welfare concerns, though not unique to the intensive model.

“There are also problems in terms of animal welfare in the broad regime [prédateurs, intempéries, accès à la nourriture] only in intensive mode [limitation de la liberté de mouvements et de la possibilité pour les animaux d’exprimer leurs comportements naturels], says Jamie Dallaire. But in general, it is more difficult to overcome difficulties in the intensive mode than in the extensive mode. »

In recent years, ever-increasing consumer concerns about agriculture, which are more concerned with animal welfare, have allowed practices to change. Organic farming has allowed a return to more extensive animal husbandry on some farms. But the fact remains that “real progress [pour le bien-être des animaux] slower than attitude change [des consommateurs] Jamie Dallaire says.

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