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Meat Sci. 2010 Sep;86(1):56-65. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2010.04.022. Epub 2010 May 2.

Auditing animal welfare at slaughter plants.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


The OIE Welfare Standards on slaughter transport, and killing of animals for disease control are basic minimum standards that every country should follow. The OIE, European Union, and many private standards used by commercial industry have an emphasis on animal based outcome standards instead of engineering based standards. Numerical scoring is used by both private industry and some governments to access animal welfare at slaughter plants. Five variables are measured. They are: 1) Percentage of animals effectively stunned on the first attempt, 2) Percentage rendered insensible, 3) Percentage that vocalize (bellow, moo, squeal) during handling and stunning, 4) Percentage that fall during handling, and 5) Percentage moved with an electric goad. Each one of these critical control points measures the outcome of many problems. A good animal welfare auditing system also has standards that prohibit really bad practices such as dragging, dropping, throwing, puntilla, and hoisting live animals before ritual slaughter. On farm and transport problems that can be measured at the slaughter plant are: percentage of lame animals, percentage of thin animals, percentage of dirty animals, percentage with sores, bruises or lesions, death losses, morbidity, and percentage of birds with broken wings and legs.

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