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Humane Slaughter

Compassion in World Farming believes that suffering at slaughter can be avoided, provided certain basic principles are met: 

  • The transport and handling of the animal prior to slaughter minimises stress
  • Death is instantaneous, or
  • The animal is instantaneously stunned and remains unconscious until dead
  • The method of inducing unconsciousness and death is not in itself likely to cause stress

The law requires animals in the EU to be effectively stunned before slaughter. However, exceptions are made which permit some religious communities to slaughter without pre-stunning. This applies to slaughter by the Jewish method (Shechita) or by the Muslim method (Halal).

Compassion believes there should be no exemptions, and the law should be changed to require all animals to be effectively stunned before slaughter, regardless of the slaughter method that is then used (this also applies to mis-stunning in conventional abattoirs). We also believe that all slaughterhouses should have CCTV installed in order to assist with the monitoring of slaughter and to help prevent cruelty.

Welfare concerns in the EU

Loop-holes, poor enforcement, and a lack of suitable legislations can all impact the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter. There are a range of serious welfare concerns currently affecting vast numbers of animals across Europe.

  1. Derogations to EU law allow animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning for consumption by the Jewish and Muslim community. Slaughter without effective pre-stunning causes unacceptable suffering.
  2. In the EU around 1 billion chickens a year are ineffectively stunned prior to slaughter. They experience an agonising electric shock that fails to properly stun them followed by the full pain and fear of being slaughtered while fully conscious.
  3. It is becoming increasingly common across Europe to use high concentrations of CO2 gas to make pigs unconscious prior to slaughter. CO2 gas results in a burning and then drowning-like sensation and can cause around 15-30 seconds of very severe suffering prior to the pigs losing consciousness.
  4. Every year over 2 million animals are exported live out of the EU. They are sent to countries where they receive no legal protection at the time of slaughter. Many face agonising, drawn out slaughter.
  5. Roughly 1 billion fish are farmed and slaughtered in the EU each year. Most are slaughtered in ways that are inhumane and illegal. EU law requires fish to be spared avoidable suffering at slaughter. The technology exists to make fish unconscious prior to slaughter, but instead the vast majority are left to suffocate or killed while fully conscious in ways that cause immense suffering.
  6. It has become apparent that huge numbers of animals in the EU – roughly 18% of all sheep, and 27% of all goats – are not killed in official slaughter houses. This means that their slaughter goes entirely unregulated, and much of this is likely to be inhumane.

The European Commission has, time and time again, failed to take seriously the issue of the welfare of animals at slaughter. As a result, billions of animals suffer needlessly every year. Please call on the EU Commission to fulfil its role to protect animal welfare across all Member States.

Animal slaughter : A global issue

Whenever possible Compassion also takes action to tackle inhumane slaughter around the world whether it’s pushing for training and funding to be made available to improve conditions outside Europe, or sharing knowledge and assisting other campaign groups. Our latest work has been to support the campaign against the Gadhimai festival in Nepal which has in the past involved the beheading of hundreds of thousands of animals in a terrifying festival setting. At the last festival (2014) numbers were drastically reduced and some commitments have been made by the religious authorities to stop the slaughter. However, the government in Nepal has, to date, taken absolutely no action to ban this practice. As such - the campaign continues.

The next Gadhimai festival is set to take place in 2019.