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A comparison of handling methods relevant to the religious slaughter of sheep

By L. S. W. Bates, E. A. Ford, S. N. Brown, G. J. Richards, P. J. Hadley, S. B. Wotton, T. G. Knowles

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Abstract

Legislation governing non-stun slaughter of sheep in England requires that they are individually and mechanically restrained for slaughter and not moved for at least 20 s post neck cut, until unconsciousness or insensibility occurs. Complying with the need for individual handling, in what is a flock animal, has the potential to adversely affect welfare, in turn contravening the general legislative requirement to reduce any avoidable distress at slaughter. This study investigated the effects of individually loading and restraining lambs compared with the normal practice of group loading and restraint of lambs prior to slaughter when using a V-shaped restrainer. Rotating and static design loading pens were also compared to represent the range of conditions and facilities found across English abattoirs. Plasma cortisol and lactate concentrations were significantly lower in group-loaded animals and significant reductions were observed in the time duration of a range of components of handling as well as the average total time to load each lamb. Loading pen type had a less marked impact upon results, however, individual loading and restraint of lambs within a V-shaped restrainer appears particularly stressful for sheep in comparison with group loading. The loading pen type had a mixed effect although the rotating crowding pen is likely to have minimised physical exertion in lambs during loading and restraint. Based on these findings, group loading in a V-shaped restrainer, whilst complying with the 20-s standstill, is likely to be preferable in religious, non-stun slaughter of sheep.

Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 23
Issue 3
Pages 251-258
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Publisher Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
DOI 10.7120/09627286.23.3.251
Language English
Author Address School of Veterinart Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK.Toby.Knowles@bristol.ac.uk
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Tags
  1. Animal physiology
  2. Animals
  3. Animal slaughter
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Biochemistry
  6. Blood
  7. Bovidae
  8. British Isles
  9. Cleaning
  10. Commonwealth of Nations
  11. Developed countries
  12. Diseases and injuries of animals
  13. Effect
  14. Europe
  15. Great Britain
  16. Handling
  17. Hydrocortisone
  18. Lactic acid
  19. Lambs
  20. Laws and regulations
  21. Legislation
  22. Mammals
  23. OECD countries
  24. pens
  25. restraint
  26. Ruminants
  27. Sheep
  28. slaughter
  29. slaughterhouses
  30. Storage and Transport Equipment
  31. Stress
  32. ungulates
  33. United Kingdom
  34. vertebrates
  35. Wool producing animals