- Animals will move better from dark to light places- be sure to illuminate the slaughter box that you want them to enter (but DO NOT position the light so it shines in their eyes).
- Keep the slaughter box and area clean and make sure there is anti-slip floor. Wash it down regularly. Remove all distractions that can lead to hesitance, stress and panic. This bull below was very scared to move forward towards the slaughter-box: the bull in front of him could be seen and heard struggling inside it, there were blood and shadows at the entrance of the slaughter-box and the slaughter area was very dark. By blocking the view of the bull in front, removing factors causing shadows, cleaning the blood and illuminating the slaughter area, one can greatly reduce stress and ease movement forward.
- Animals should be restrained in the most comfortable upright position possible. Animals should NEVER be hung up by one leg. Having animals upright prior to slaughter is not only more humane, but also provides a safer environment for handlers.
Dr. Temple Grandin recommends the ASPCA pen for cattle where the animal is restrained upright. It has a belly lift to support the body as well as a rear pusher and a chin lift: Further details and other options can be found on the website of Dr. Temple Grandin.Having proper equipment is just one part of improving animal-welfare. Your employees must still be thoroughly trained in how to use such equipment properly. If it is used correctly, such equipment is a welfare advantage and is better for meat quality. If used incorrectly one can cause additional suffering. See next chapter on how you can order the proper equipment as well as order a training for your slaughter personnel.
- Placing a thick rubber mat on the floor of the kill-box can help alleviate loud banging noise of the animals’ hooves against the metal flooring which can cause panic. Make sure the colour of the floor of the kill-chute is similar to the colour of the floor of the gangway – remember animals will balk at contrast in colours and texture of the floors.
- Block the view for cattle from seeing the butcher process of previously slaughtered animals but make sure their view straight ahead is not blocked, as animals will not move easily towards what looks like a dead-end. Hanging a rubber curtain to the side of the chin lift will block distractions from the further slaughter process, but still give her or him the feeling that the gangway will continue straight on.
- The knife should be twice as long as the width of the neck of the animals you are slaughtering.
- The knife must be extremely sharp and without any nicks. Sharpen and clean it regular in between animals. Replace knives that develop nicks.
- If the animal is not stunned first, one must absolutely wait until the animal is clearly dead before hoisting or any further handling and processing of the carcass.
- If cattle are being slaughtered without being stunned first, it is important to guarantee a fast loss of blood so that the animal loses consciousness quickly. The longer the animal remains conscious, the longer s/he suffers.
Cattle have an intervertebral artery as well as carotid arteries. This means that even after the carotid arteries are cut during ritual non-stunning slaughter, oxygen is still supplied to the brain of the bovine via the intervertebral artery and the bovine remains sentient for a longer time. It is therefore recommended to make a stick also into the chest cavity to release a high volume of blood in a short time and stop the flow of blood to the brain. In the diagrams below you can see the intervertebral artery and where the chest-cut should be made.
Adapted from Humane Slaughter – Taking Responsibility (1994) www.hsa.org.uk