(Updated August 2017)
There are two animal welfare issues when religious slaughter is done without stunning. The first concern is the welfare issue associated with the throat cut and the second issue is how the animal is held in position for the procedure. These are two separate issues. This document will be limited to the issue of how the animal is held. The methods used to hold the animal range from excellent to painful and highly stressful. It is my opinion that stressful restraint methods are the greatest concern.
An acceptable restraint method must be able to pass a performance based animal welfare audit. For cattle and calves 95% of the animals must be silent and not vocalize (moo or bellow) during entry into the holding device and the ENTIRE time they are in the device prior to the throat cut. Vocalization is an indicator of stress in cattle during restraint (Dunn 1990). Vocalization scoring does not work for sheep. When sheep are injured they do not vocalize (baa baa). Cattle vocalize in response to an aversive event such as electric prods, excessive pressure from a restraint device, pinching or slipping and falling (Grandin 1998). For both cattle and sheep, 99% of the animals must be able to be handled with out falling down. Seventy five percent of the cattle and calves must be able to be moved into the restraint device with no electric prod. For sheep the use of electric prods is not recommended.
All restraint devices for both conventional and religious slaughter should have the following features to reduce stress.
|Excellent||Animal held in an upright position. Research with sheep indicates that animals prefer being held in an upright position. Rushen (1986) reported that when sheep were forced to make repeated choices between upright or inverted restraint they favored upright restraint.|
|Conditional Acceptable||Rotating restraint box that inverts the animal onto its back. It must have a large adjustable side to support the body and prevent struggling or vocalization during rotation. This class of rotating restrainers would include the Facomia pen and other similar devices. An animal must have its throat cut within 10 seconds after inversion. Rotating boxes are for religious slaughter only.|
|Not Acceptable||Rotating box with no adjustable side to provide body support. This would include the old fashioned Weinberg casting pen. Dunn (1990) found that cattle held on their backs in the old fashioned Weinberg for 103 seconds had significantly higher cortisol and vocalization rates compared to cattle held in an upright restrainer. Old fashioned Weinberg's could be retrofitted with an adjustable side.|
|Serious Problem; Automatic FAILED AUDIT||The following methods of restraint should never be used for conscious animals that are still sensible.
When plant management is committed to good animal welfare, religious slaughter practices can be greatly improved. If plant management is poor, animal welfare will be poor, even if the plant has the best equipment. Maintaining high standards requires continous measurement of handling procedures. Handling and restraint should be continuously monitored using the follow outcome measures:
Grandin, T. 2013. Making slaughter houses more humane for cattle, pigs, and sheep. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences. 1:491-512. Posted on this website: www.grandin.com.
Grandin, T. 2012. Developing measures to audit welfare of cattle and pigs at slaughter. Animal Welfare. 21:351-356.
Grandin, T. 2000. Livestock Handling and Transport, CABI International. Wallingford, Oxon, UK.
Grandin, T. 1998. The feasibility of using vocalization scoring as an indicator of poor welfare during slaughter, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 56:121-128.
Grandin, T. 1994. Euthanasia and slaughter of livestock, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assn. 204:1354-1360.
Grandin, T. 1992. Observations of cattle restraint devices for stunning and slaughtering, Animal Welfare, 1:85-91.
NAMI. 2017. Recommended animal handling guidelines and audit guide. North American Meat Institute, Washington,D.C. www.animalhandling.org
Rushen, J. 1936. Aversion of sheep for handling treatments, Paired choice studies, Applied Animal Behavior Science, 16:360-370.
State of Israel Ministry of Agriculture. 2017. Guidelines for humane kosher slaughter. 300417 Document. Veterinary Services and Animal Health. Beit Dagan, 50250, Israel.
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