Emergencies on Livestock Farms (PB1147)

Casualty Slaughter

15 Occasionally, the most humane way of dealing with livestock which are sick or badly injured is to have them slaughtered quickly. The decision to slaughter is difficult because it will usually result in a financial loss. The temptation might be for you to keep a sick animal alive for too long in the hope that it will recover. Animal welfare law requires that your decision, and any action you take, must take into account the welfare of the animal until it is slaughtered. Whatever the circumstances - bearing in mind that a quick decision may have to be made - a veterinary surgeon should be consulted if possible.
16 When an animal has to be slaughtered, your action will depend on whether or not the animal is fit for human consumption and whether or not it is fit to travel to the slaughterhouse or must be slaughtered on the farm. The following section looks at these issues and offers advice on what to do.


Animals Unfit for Human Consumption

17 Sometimes the nature of the disease or injury will render the animal unfit for human consumption. In many cases these animals will also be unfit to travel. Humane slaughter should be carried out as soon as possible on the farm by a veterinary surgeon, licensed knacker or the farmer or stockkeeper to prevent unnecessary suffering. If you or your staff are involved in the slaughter, then please remember that it is an offence under:
18 The following is a check-list of some of the points to bear in mind in preparing for emergency slaughter on your farm:
  • if you have any reservations about killing an animal, enlist the help of a veterinary surgeon or a licensed slaughterer. If not, you should be fully trained in the methods you might need to use. Seek the advice of experts on the most humane methods of slaughter and the kind of equipment that is most suitable for different species. The Humane Slaughter Association may be able to offer advice;
  • if you have to slaughter in an emergency, your actions should be quick, confident and determined so as to avoid unnecessary suffering to the animal;
  • please note that, for obvious safety reasons, the use of a captive bolt is much preferred to a free bullet weapon for most animals. If you are a competent handler of a 12 bore shotgun, then you should seek instruction from your veterinary surgeon on its use as a humane killer;
  • remember that all firearms, including captive bolt pistols, require firearms certificates. Your veterinary surgeon may be able to support your application to the police for a firearms certificate;
  • if you cannot obtain a veterinary certificate stating that the animal is fit for human consumption, then the animal must not be sent to a slaughterhouse but be killed and sent to a knackers yards, or disposed of on the farm (burnt or buried).


Animals Fit for Human Consumption

19 Public health controls exist to prevent unfit meat entering the human food chain. Therefore, the carcass of an animal which has been humanely slaughtered on a farm must not be sent to a slaughterhouse for human consumption unless it is accompanied by the Veterinary Certificate required by regulation 19 of the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1992.
20 If transport of an animal would cause it unnecessary suffering, then the animal must be considered unfit for transport.
21 If the animal is unfit to travel but is certified by a veterinary surgeon as fit for human consumption, the slaughter should be carried out on your own farm by either a licensed slaughterer or a veterinary surgeon. After bleeding, the animal should be transported to a slaughterhouse within one hour or, if later, at a temperature between 0C and 4C.
22 When considering the slaughter of your casualty animal at the slaughterhouse please bear in mind the following points:-
  • When a casualty animal is being transported, it must be penned separately from other stock on the vehicle and be supplied with deep bedding. It should be taken to the nearest suitable slaughterhouse and prior arrangement should be made so that unnecessary suffering can be avoided and the animal slaughtered without undue delay
  • Any casualty animal must be accompanied by a written declaration from the owner or person in charge of it giving details of what appears to be wrong and its medication history.
  • Animal welfare law concerns itself with what is the best interest of the casualty animal. An unfit animal may be transported live to the nearest available place for slaughter, provided that it is not caused unnecessary suffering by reason of its unfitness. Judgement will clearly be needed in each case on whether unnecessary suffering would occur. If in doubt contact your veterinary surgeon.
23 Further contact points for advice are located at the back of this booklet.
ADLib logo Content provided by the Agricultural Document Library
© University of Hertfordshire, 2011