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BVA calls for species-specific welfare needs to be respected at slaughter

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By Josh Loeb

The BVA is calling for more consideration to be given to different species’ individual needs as part of a further shift away from one-size-fits-all approaches to welfare at slaughter.

The association’s new policy document, entitled ‘BVA position on the welfare of animals at slaughter’, contains in-depth analysis of different methods for dispatching animals based on their particular needs (see box on p 167). The move is consistent with wider efforts to tailor slaughtering infrastructure in increasingly specialised ways.

Species-specific slaughter

Proposals for bespoke slaughtering methods to be used for different species include:


Electrical waterbath stunning of poultry should be phased out and replaced with recoverable stunning alternatives (eg, gas), owing to welfare issues that can arise from live shackling and inversion of birds preslaughter and, in some cases, wrong electrical frequencies being used.


Use of a free-bullet firearm or captive-bolt gun is recommended. The BVA opposes electrical stunning of deer as this increases the need for handling and restraint – stressors in prey animals. ‘Pithing’ – the physical destruction of brain tissue – should be used to ensure rapid death after captive-bolt use. If slaughter takes place in an abattoir, it should be purpose built for handling deer.


To improve end-of-life welfare for horses, vets should be aware of the implications of signing a horse out of the food chain. This can limit end-of-life options for horses and may in turn result in delayed euthanasia. Humane slaughter in an abattoir should be discussed, depending on circumstances. Abattoirs used should be purpose built to handle horses, …

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