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Humane Slaughter

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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.

For too long, large numbers of animals in Britain have been killed in a way that causes immense suffering - but which is within the law. Although some progress has been made - such as the Government's introduction of legislation requiring CCTV in all slaughterhouses in England - it is essential that UK decision makers introduce mandatory method of slaughter labelling and, ultimately, prevent all non-stun slaughter. Email your MP now.

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