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CAB Reviews

A reviews journal covering agriculture, global health, nutrition, natural resources and veterinary science

CAB Review

Is livestock transport a necessary practice? Mobile slaughter and on-farm stunning and killing before transport to slaughter.


Large numbers of livestock are transported to slaughter. The journeys may cause considerable animal stress and suffering. They often involve separation from familiar groups and places, as well as exposure to a range of stressful stimuli. Stockpersons do not always understand the principles of efficient interaction with the animals and may have undesirable attitudes towards them, which worsens handling. This paper reviews the literature on farm animal transport to slaughter, its consequences and alternative approaches. On-farm slaughter may be conducted at a small stationary plant located on farm, at a mobile slaughter unit temporarily placed at or near the farm or by on-farm killing followed by transport of the dead animal to a nearby plant for further processing. On-farm slaughter has the potential to reduce pre-slaughter animal stress and improve meat quality by shorter or eliminated journeys, minimal exposure to unfamiliar environments, animals and persons and less time in lairage. This would be perceived as an improvement in relation to some of the practical and ethical issues linked to the slaughter of animals. However, research and development is needed for wider application of mobile slaughter and on-farm gunshot stunning. Issues related to animal welfare, food and occupational safety, waste management and public health should be investigated further.

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