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Effect of animal welfare audits of slaughter plants by a major fast food company on cattle handling and stunning practices

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  • 1 Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1171.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the percentages of cattle that are stunned correctly and that vocalize (moo or bellow) when a major meat-buying customer conducts slaughter plant audits.

Design—Survey of existing practices.

Sample Population—22 federally inspected slaughter plants.

Procedure—The 3 variables evaluated in each slaughter plant were stunning efficacy, insensibility on the bleed rail, and vocalization.

Results—Of the 22 slaughter plants, 17 (77%) rendered ≥ 95% of the cattle insensible with a single shot from a captive bolt stunner. Twenty slaughter plants (91%) rendered 100% of the cattle completely insensible before hanging them on the bleed rail. Eighteen of 21 (86%) slaughter plants achieved cattle vocalization scores of ≤ 3%. The mean vocalization score for all slaughter plants was 3.08%. Vocalization ranged from 0.66 to 17%.

Conclusions—Results of this study indicate that audits of slaughter plants by major meat-buying customers may motivate the meat industry to improve handling and stunning practices. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:848–851)

Abstract

Objective—To determine the percentages of cattle that are stunned correctly and that vocalize (moo or bellow) when a major meat-buying customer conducts slaughter plant audits.

Design—Survey of existing practices.

Sample Population—22 federally inspected slaughter plants.

Procedure—The 3 variables evaluated in each slaughter plant were stunning efficacy, insensibility on the bleed rail, and vocalization.

Results—Of the 22 slaughter plants, 17 (77%) rendered ≥ 95% of the cattle insensible with a single shot from a captive bolt stunner. Twenty slaughter plants (91%) rendered 100% of the cattle completely insensible before hanging them on the bleed rail. Eighteen of 21 (86%) slaughter plants achieved cattle vocalization scores of ≤ 3%. The mean vocalization score for all slaughter plants was 3.08%. Vocalization ranged from 0.66 to 17%.

Conclusions—Results of this study indicate that audits of slaughter plants by major meat-buying customers may motivate the meat industry to improve handling and stunning practices. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:848–851)