This report considers the welfare of poultry (and other white meat species) in the last few hours of their lives up to the moment of slaughter or killing. It deals with the experiences of poultry during catching and loading on the farm, the journey to the slaughterhouse, the wait in the lairage, unloading from transport containers, stunning and finally slaughter or killing.
Since over 800 million poultry are killed annually in Great Britain, there is a strong moral imperative to ensure that welfare is a prime consideration at all these stages.
The report also covers other circumstances in which poultry are killed as well as licensing and training of slaughtermen, legislation and its enforcement and equipment design and approval, since these also affect welfare.
The report sets out 6 principles for humane slaughter and killing:
- all personnel involved with slaughter or killing must be trained, competent and caring
- only those animals that are fit should be caught, loaded and transported to the slaughterhouse
- any handling of animals prior to slaughter must be done with consideration for the animal’s welfare
- in the slaughterhouse, only equipment that is fit for the purpose must be used
- prior to slaughter or killing an animal, either it must be rendered unconscious and insensible to pain instantaneously or unconsciousness must be induced without pain or distress
- animals must not recover consciousness until death ensues
The responsibilities of slaughtermen and other workers are grave and the need for training and compassion is paramount.
You can read more about the work of the Farm Animal Welfare Committee.