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Welfare of cattle at slaughter

Metadata

Panel members at the time of adoption

Julio Alvarez, Dominique Joseph Bicout, Paolo Calistri, Klaus Depner, Julian Ashley Drewe, Bruno Garin‐Bastuji, Jose Luis Gonzales Rojas, Christian Gortázar Schmidt, Miguel Ángel Miranda Chueca, Virginie Michel, Søren Saxmose Nielsen, Helen Clare Roberts, Liisa Helena Sihvonen, Hans Spoolder, Karl Stahl, Antonio Velarde, Arvo Viltrop and Christoph Winckler.

Abstract

The killing of cattle for human consumption (slaughtering) can take place in a slaughterhouse or on farm. The processes of slaughtering that were assessed for welfare, from the arrival of cattle until their death (including slaughtering without stunning), were grouped into three main phases: pre‐stunning (including arrival, unloading from the truck, lairage, handling and moving of cattle); stunning (including restraint); and bleeding. Stunning methods were grouped into two categories: mechanical and electrical. Twelve welfare consequences that cattle may be exposed to during slaughter were identified: heat stress, cold stress, fatigue, prolonged thirst, prolonged hunger, impeded movement, restriction of movements, resting problems (inability to rest or discomfort during resting), social stress, pain, fear and distress. Welfare consequences and their relevant animal‐based measures are described. In total, 40 welfare hazards that could occur during slaughter were identified and characterised, most of them related to stunning and bleeding. Staff were identified as the origin of 39 hazards, which were attributed to the lack of appropriate skill sets needed to perform tasks or to fatigue. Measures to prevent and correct hazards were identified, and structural and managerial measures were identified as those with a crucial role in prevention. Outcome tables linking hazards, welfare consequences, animal‐based measures, origin of hazards, and preventive and corrective measures were developed for each process. Mitigation measures to minimise welfare consequences are proposed.

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