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Secretary's manual (page 5 of 9)

Animal Pedigree Act Secretary's Manual - Table of Contents



All breed associations must submit by-laws for approval within one year of being incorporated under the Animal Pedigree Act. No by-law, amendment or repeal has effect until it is approved by the Minister. By-laws give legal authority to an association by which it may conduct its affairs. The by-laws bind every member.

Registration rules of eligibility


Consistent with the Animal Pedigree Act, all breed associations must establish rules respecting eligibility of animals for registration. The rules of eligibility contained in the association by-laws should be comprehensive so as to clearly indicate to the public the criteria by which animals will be included or excluded from registration. For most breed associations, registration is by far the most important activity.

Establishing rules of eligibility

Rules of eligibility for registration are established to achieve two objectives:

  1. The maintenance of minimum breed standards. These are like trademark characteristics for the breed. Animals that do not meet minimum breed standards which satisfy the broadest description of the breed should not be registered as purebred. Only animals which do conform should be accepted into the breeding population.
  2. Enforcement of rules on ancestral lineage (pedigree). Animals must have documented proof of relationship back to a common foundation population. This should correspond to the minimum definition of purebred accepted by the association. Animals demonstrating lineage less than purebred requirements must have the percentage purebred appropriately indicated.

Rules of eligibility for registration should be based on genetic criteria. For example, requiring that animals are dehorned as a condition for registration would do nothing to effect a genetic change in the breed; however, requiring that only genetically polled animals be allowed registration would have an influence. Breed characteristics can only be improved if a trait is heritable and inheritance patterns are well understood. As well as traits being heritable, there also must be a balance with other breeding objectives related to improving performance and enhancing overall viability of the population. Therefore, the degree of emphasis on breed standards must be considered carefully.

Where a breed is well established and the definition of purebred is 100% (i.e. closed herdbook), it is common to reduce or even eliminate eligibility rules related to breed standards and just concentrate on the pedigree. However, there are a number of situations in which a breed association may wish to retain emphasis on breed standards:

  1. where a breed is not well established and not as genetically stable as desired for certain trademark characteristics,
  2. where definition of purebred is less than 100% (may be no less than 7/8ths) and grading-up to other breeds is known to diminish certain accepted trademark characteristics, or
  3. there is a desire to evolve the entire breed. For example, there may be consensus to remove a particular colour variant or a genetic disorder from the population.

Nevertheless, caution should be exercised in establishing rules of eligibility which place undue emphasis on trademark characteristics or other breed standards. The risk of too much emphasis is to limit the effective population size, limit selection pressure on other more economically important traits, limit the ability of the breed to evolve (breeds are dynamic populations), and perhaps even decrease genetic variability in critical traits. Breed associations must recognize that there is also an important role for performance recording, genetic evaluation, and marketing which should be independent of the registry itself.

Breed of improvement

The first purpose of the Animal Pedigree Act is to promote breed improvement. Breed improvement results from selecting certain animals as parents of the next generation and excluding others. Breed improvement strategies may include establishing rules of eligibility for registration which enforce breed standards, culling poorly performing animals, promoting top performers as parents of the next generation (i.e. selection), and planning matings.

Genetic traits can be roughly separated into those which are considered trademark characteristics (traits which identify the breed such as colour, size, etc.), fitness traits (eg. fertility, disease resistance, absence of genetic disorders), and other performance characteristics (eg. growth rate, milk production, fibre quality). Considering the relative impact of breed improvement strategies on these genetic traits, we would find they are not all equally as effective. For example, it is difficult to establish rules of eligibility which will improve a breed's fitness. Registration occurs early in life whereas reproductive and health performance need to be assessed closer to maturity. On the other hand, establishing rules of eligibility to enforce breed standards is probably the best means of ensuring that trademark characteristics of the breed are retained.

Given the emphasis of the Animal Pedigree Act on breed improvement, breed associations have a special role in assisting breeders by providing a balance of tools to improve their animals. The Act allows breed associations to make by-laws (see Section 15(2) of the Act) respecting promotion and establishment of breed improvement programs, inspection of animals for registration and performance standards which must be met. However, caution must be exercised to ensure that registration criteria aren't overused to the point of restricting the breeding population. The main emphasis of registration rules in addition to pedigree requirements should be on the enforcement of breed standards to ensure animals retain their essential trademark characteristics. Therefore, most performance recording programs are additional to the registry system, although participation in performance recording may be considered a prerequisite to registration.

In general, concentration on pedigree background is expected to improve predictability of the animals in a breed. Concentration on the other areas of breed improvement are expected to yield additional benefits.

  1. Trademark characteristics - enforcement of breed standards, uniqueness
  2. Performance traits - economic viability, marketability
  3. Fitness traits - selection differential, breeding viability

Breed associations should carefully consider where they wish to put emphasis for the overall benefit of the breed. What will make the breed most competitive? Over time the emphasis may change so breed associations must remain current with the requirements of the market.


Rules of eligibility for registration should be kept simple, have a sound genetic basis, and be used to ensure compliance with minimum breed standards and ancestral lineage. It is just as critical to maintain a viable, sufficiently large and diverse population from which to select animals. Performance and marketing issues should be handled separately from the registry itself. When a breed is well established and genetically stable, emphasis on breed standards may be replaced by emphasis on performance traits. These will have a more direct impact on the long-term economic viability and competitiveness of the breed.

Recognition of foreign registries

Breed associations may recognize foreign registries in whole or in part. The effective size of a breeding population is expanded when foreign animals are accessible to Canadian breeders. The benefits of a larger effective breeding population can be realized when imported animals meet the minimum requirements expected of the Canadian registered breed population. They should also be selected based on objective characteristics expected to improve the Canadian breed population. Either an entire foreign registry can be recognized or just the portion considered to be in compliance with Canadian standards.

Full recognition

Full recognition of a foreign registry implies the following;

  1. The animals registered in the foreign herd book derive from a population with a similar origin and history to the Canadian registered population.
  2. Animals in the foreign registry have breed standards similar to the Canadian population.
  3. All animals in the foreign registry are physically identified in a manner which is unique, permanent and positive (easily read and interpreted).
  4. Rules of eligibility correspond to minimum requirements of the Canadian registered population.
  5. The foreign registry is centralized to ensure consistent application of its rules of eligibility, unique and consistent pedigree information with an ability to produce registration certificates showing at least three generations of ancestry.

Partial recognition

Partial recognition of a foreign registry is possible where a herdbook/studbook has sufficient distinguishing features to allow separation of animals which do and do not meet the above requirements. The following are some examples of how criteria may be determined:

Date dependent. Rules of eligibility in the foreign registry may have changed at some time, making them either more or less compatible with the requirements of the Canadian registry. Restrictions on animals coming from the foreign registry may be appropriate which correspond to the date of the rule changes.

Conditional recognition

In addition to whole or part recognition of foreign registries, it is possible in some situations to recognize animals from a foreign registry with conditions. Two situations where this can occur are as follows:

  1. All animals in the foreign registry do not meet minimum requirements for registration of purebred animals according to the rules of the Canadian association. However, the Canadian association has multiple herdbooks or levels within a herdbook, and foreign registered animals can enter the herdbook at the appropriate level.
  2. The animals in the foreign registry all derive from a common population to the Canadian stock and have a common history. However, the rules of eligibility are somewhat different or the process for verifying information is less strict than that applied in Canada. For example, the foreign registry may not check for specific genetic disorders, or may have a lower rate of parentage verification.
    1. Apply checks or screenings on imported animals. These may be according to the existing rules of eligibility, or by a process established to ensure sufficient confidence that the animals meet Canadian requirements.
    2. Apply checks on progeny of imported animals. If the necessary standards can not be confirmed in the imported animal it may be necessary to exclude it from registration but the progeny may be considered after application of the rules of eligibility.


There is no standard definition of reciprocity as pertains to international agreements. Reciprocity may vary between Mutual Recognition and Equivalency. Equivalency is understood to mean that although the systems may be different, the objectives and the end result are basically the same. In practise, it means a registry system may be recognized either in whole or in part. Mutual Recognition is understood to mean that countries recognize each others' products (i.e. registered animals) even though the regulatory process (eg. rules of eligibility) or standards are different or have gaps.

The preference in the trade of breeding stock is to lean towards equivalency as the definition of reciprocity. Therefore, breed associations may negotiate equivalency with foreign registries in whole or in part. In order to develop global standards, including for registration, some Canadian associations are members of an international organisation. Their provisions are not binding under international trade law, although there may be consequences for not ratifying an agreement (eg. not having access to certain shows). However, it should be noted that any change in rules must not be contrary to the association's by-laws or to the Animal Pedigree Act. If they are contrary to the by-laws, the necessary by-law changes must be made first which would require approval by the membership and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Special Note: International Standard Setting Bodies

Canada is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement is one of the agreements covered by the WTO. It has provisions to recognize international organizations whose body or system is open to the relevant bodies of at least all WTO members. However, at the present time there are no organizations that are recognized as "international organizations" under the TBT agreement and no procedures currently established to achieve such recognition. There is considerable debate within the TBT Committee in Geneva as to whether procedures or guidelines should be developed.

If an organization is considering recognition as an international organization under the TBT Agreement then according to the TBT Agreement it must:

  1. be an international group whose membership is open to the relevant bodies of at least all members, and
  2. the standards must be developed using the code of good practice for the preparation, adoption and application of standards (Annex 3 of TBT Agreement).

To start the process to be considered as an international organization, an information package would have to be prepared and sent to the Canadian mission in Geneva who would then forward the information to the TBT secretariat.

As there are currently no bodies that are recognized as international bodies, and thus no precedents to follow, any application for recognition as an "international organization" would likely involve some learning along the way for breed associations, government and the TBT secretariat.

By-law amendments

Recommended process

The following is a suggested format for submission of a request to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) for approval of by-law amendments under the Animal Pedigree Act.

By-law amendments must be consistent with requirements of the Act as well as the by-laws of the Association. Standard procedures will assist AAFC in processing the amendments and help avoid unnecessary delays. Standard practices should also make it easier to incorporate the amendments into the existing by-laws of the Association.

Requests for approval of by-law amendments are to be submitted (usually by the secretary) to the AAFC Animal Registration Officer and should include the following:

  1. The complete proposed amendments in triplicate
    • must also include notarized declaration (affidavit) in triplicate (see sample attached)
    • each copy should be an original (a photocopy of typed text is acceptable but signatures on the declaration must be original).
  2. Minutes of the general meeting at which the vote was taken
    • used to help check by-law requirements regarding quorum and majority vote
    • helps the Department better understand where concerns have arisen or if the intent of the amendment was not clear
    • if voting was by mail-in vote, minutes of an associated meeting at which the proposed amendments were discussed would be helpful.
  3. Actual vote counts including numbers for, against and abstentions (where applicable)
    • may be included in the minutes or provided separately
    • for mail-in votes conducted in accordance with the by-laws of the Association, final vote counts should be provided by the designated responsible authority.
  4. A copy of the original notice of meeting
    • in addition to the copy sent in accordance with the Act (Section 60(a))
  5. A copy of the annual report with audited financial statement, list of directors and officers of the Association and voting representatives to the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation (where applicable)
    • to comply with the Act (Section 60(b))
    • can be sent under separate cover if desired

Note that the by-law approval process is subject to requirements of the Act and (see Section 16):

No by-law of an association and no amendment or repeal of any by-law of an association has any force or effect until it is approved by the Minister.

The Animal Registration Officer (see Chapter 6) is available to provide assistance to breed associations in answering questions regarding the Animal Pedigree Act.

Sample amendments form

(Name of Association)
By-law amendments as presented to
the general membership at the (Annual/Special) General Meeting
(city), (province), (date)

1. Be it resolved that Section (number) which reads:

be amended to read:



2. Be resolved that Section (number) which reads:

be deleted and all subsequent sections (or paragraphs, as required) be
renumbered accordingly.



3. Be it resolved that a new Section (number) which reads;

be inserted and that all subsequent sections (or paragraphs) be renumbered



4. Be it resolved that the attached revised by-laws be approved in their entirety as amended, with bolded text proposed for addition and strikeout text proposed for removal from the existing by-laws, as per the explanations also attached. [Note: this option only recommended where extensive rewrite of by-laws has been made.]


Sample notarized declaration

(preferably on Association letterhead)


Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
c/o Animal Registration Officer
Animal Industry Division
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
[Type the current address]

I, (name), am submitting herewith for Ministerial approval, the attached amendment(s) to the by-laws of the (name of Association) and I do solemnly declare that;

  1. I am the (title) of the (name of Association) and as such have full knowledge of the matter herein declared,
  2. I did on the ( )th day of (month), (year) mail a copy of the attached Notice of (Annual/Special) General Meeting along with the proposed amendments, to the members on the current membership role in accordance with the by-laws of the Association,
  3. In addition, I mailed a copy of the said notice of meeting to the Animal Registration Officer, for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,
  4. The current membership role with given post office addresses is a true and correct record of all (year) members of the Association determined in accordance with the by-laws of the (name of Association) at the time of mailing of said notices,
  5. The (Annual/Special) General Meeting was held in (city), (province) on the ( )th day of (month), (year), and
  6. The attached amendments to the by-laws of the (name of Association) and related voting results are in accordance with the minutes of the meeting and section (number) of the by-laws of the Association.

I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing it to be true, and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath and by virtue of the Canada Evidence Act.

Declared before me at the
City of (name), in the county
of (name), this ( )th day of
(month), (year)

Name of Commissioner

Commissioner for Oaths, in and for
Province of (name).
(name and title of submitting
officer for the Association)
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