SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Slaughter

Farmed Animals

SPCA advocates that all farmed animals should be killed humanely.

A humane slaughter method is one that leads to immediate death, or uses stunning that renders an animal instantly and entirely insensible to pain before slaughter and until death. A humane slaughter method is non-aversive (minimising pain and distress).

SPCA advocates for low-stress and compassionate handling, as well as competent performance of stunning and slaughter procedures, to minimise fear and pain prior to and during slaughter. Animals should be slaughtered individually, never within sight or sound of those waiting to be killed.

Where possible, animals should be slaughtered on-farm to avoid the stress associated with transport and slaughterhouses.

(See ‘Stunning and Slaughter of Farmed Fish’ for more information)

(See ‘Chickens Bred for Meat’ for more information)

SPCA advocates for the development of practices to remove the need for animals to be washed before slaughter.

SPCA advocates for an end to the practice of swim washing, as it is known to be stressful and has also been found to increase bacterial contamination.

SPCA advocates for continuous improvement in the slaughter industry.

SPCA advocates for lairage that is clean, dry, has suitably ventilated shelter and offers protection from sun, rain, heat or cold stress for all animals who are awaiting slaughter. The shelter must be appropriate and sufficient for the species and the numbers of animals contained within it to allow for each animal to be able to stand up or lie down in its own space. Animals from different farms should not be mixed in lairage. Animals awaiting slaughter in lairage must have access to feed and water. All facilities should be designed to facilitate low-stress, force-free handling.

(See ‘Handling of Farmed Animals’ for more information)

SPCA advocates for CCTV cameras to be placed in all slaughterhouses and for these to be properly maintained and monitored by an independent panel to help ensure animals are treated and slaughtered humanely.

SPCA advocates for the proper training of all slaughterhouse workers, including a detailed foundation in animal welfare.

SPCA supports the practice of slaughterhouse workers receiving ongoing training and assessment of appropriate animal handling and welfare knowledge relevant to the species killed within the premises. All slaughterhouse employees should receive ongoing training on low-stress, force-free handling of farmed animals.

(See ‘Handling of Farmed Animals’ for more information)

SPCA opposes the practice of payment systems for slaughterhouse workers that base the rate of pay according to the number of animals killed.

This payment system may create incentives for employees to work in haste in an attempt to slaughter more animals in a given period, a practice which may lead to an increase in negative animal welfare consequences.

SPCA is concerned about the practice of harvesting foetal bovine serum in New Zealand slaughterhouses.

Foetal bovine serum is harvested from the blood of the foetuses of slaughtered pregnant cows and is used in the biomedical industry.

The harvesting of this product must be done in a way that minimises distress to the mother and ensures that the foetus never gains consciousness.

Sending pregnant cattle to slaughter should never be encouraged in order to obtain the extra payment for this product.

SPCA is concerned about emergency situations that disrupt or cause significant delay at slaughter facilities which results in pain or distress to animals awaiting slaughter.

All slaughterhouses should have contingency plans which include animal welfare.

SPCA respects religious freedom, however our organisation opposes religious exemptions that allow non-stun slaughter (such as shechita and non-commercial halal) because this method of killing is not humane.

SPCA advocates that, in order to ensure as humane a death as possible, all animals must be effectively stunned prior to slaughter. Stunning ensures immediate loss of consciousness to prevent animals from feeling any pain during the slaughter process.

Halal slaughter requires that the animal dies from the “halal cut” to the throat, i.e. that the pre-slaughter stun is not powerful enough to kill the animal. In premises that perform halal slaughter in New Zealand, non-lethal electrical stunning is used to render animal’s unconscious instantaneously and ensure they remain unconscious at the time of slaughter, thus complying with both animal welfare and halal requirements.

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