FAWC 1/03

10 June 2003


"Without adequate safeguards there is significant potential for farm animals to suffer unnecessarily at the end of their lives when they are slaughtered" said Dr Judy MacArthur Clark, Chairwoman of FAWC, at today's launch of the FAWC Report on the Welfare of Red Meat Animals at Slaughter or Killing. The FAWC Report comprehensively considers the welfare of livestock from the time of arrival at the slaughterhouse until the point of death.

"We have looked in particular at the pre-slaughter handling facilities, at the equipment used for slaughter, at the competency and training of personnel, and at the humaneness of the way in which unconsciousness is induced, including the guarantee of non-recovery. We have evaluated all these against basic welfare parameters in making our recommendations." continued Dr MacArthur Clark

"Clearly our decision to recommend on welfare grounds that all animals should be stunned prior to slaughter has been very newsworthy " said Dr MacArthur Clark. "However, I hope this recommendation does not overshadow the many other important recommendations we are making, many of which have the capacity to improve animal welfare very significantly". These include the need for a system of approval of slaughter equipment; the effective training and periodic re-assessment of those holding slaughter licences; the phasing out of the use of aversive gases as a means of stunning pigs; restrictions on the presentation of horned cattle at slaughterhouses; and the use of improvement notices as enforcement sanctions.

"This current report focuses on red meat animals including species such as deer, ostrich and wild boar. During the next twelve months we shall proceed to consider white meat species such as chickens and turkeys and make recommendations for their welfare" concluded Dr MacArthur Clark.

Notes for Editors

1. The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) was established by the Government in 1979 to keep under review the welfare of farm animals on agricultural land, at market, in transit and at the place of slaughter; and to advise the Government of any legislative or other changes it considers necessary. Its remit was subsequently extended to include European developments.

2. Members serve in an independent capacity and not as representatives of any organisation or body. A list of the current members of the Council can be found on page 64 of the report and at the FAWC website.

3. FAWC's review of the welfare of farm animals at slaughter was announced in 1999 and the remit included poultry. Part II of FAWC's review relating to the slaughter of white meat animals will commence in autumn 2003.

4. Copies of the "Report on the Welfare of Farmed Animals at Slaughter or Killing -Part I: Red Meat Animals" are available for download free of charge. For further details and free hard copies of the report, contact:

FAWC Secretariat
1A Page Street
London SW1P 4PQ
Telephone: 020 7904 6534
Facsmile: 020 7904 6993
E-mail: racquel.sinclair@defra.gsi.gov.uk
Website: www.fawc.org.uk