December 5, 2015

Once a farm animal has been reared it must be slaughtered before it can be eaten. The RSPCA is concerned that farm animals should be transported, handled and killed under the best animal welfare standards.

It is vital that animals are handled considerately and are insensitive to pain at the time of death. This can be achieved through an effective stun, which causes an immediate loss of consciousness which lasts until death supervenes. All farm animals deserve a humane end to their lives and we’re working in a number of different ways to try to ensure this.

The slaughter process has two stages:

  • Stunning – when performed correctly, causes an animal to lose consciousness, so the animal can’t feel pain. The law states that, with few exemptions, all animals must be stunned before ‘sticking’ is carried out.
  • Sticking – is achieved by cutting the throat of the animal or by severing all of the major blood vessels through the chest.

The most contentious issue in regard to slaughter of farm animals is slaughter without pre-stunning. The law states that all animals must be stunned before slaughter but there is an exemption in cases where the animal is being slaughtered in accordance with religious rites. The RSPCA is opposed to the slaughter of any animal without first ensuring it is rendered insensible to pain and distress. We recognise that religious beliefs and practices should be respected. However, we also believe animals should be slaughtered under the most humane conditions possible. Evidence clearly indicates that slaughter without pre-stunning can cause unnecessary suffering. At the very least we want to see mandatory labelling on the way an animal is slaughtered.

For further information on this issue please see the briefings.