The Gruesome Truth about Australian Abattoirs

Posted on January 28, 2009

Of course, Abattoirs is a fancy french word, used to hide the reality of a place where living beings are slaughtered. I wonder if the French call them “slaughterhouses” for the same reason… or do they use a german word or something. Well… enough of that.

A University student here in Australia has recently posted his observations from field trips to slaughterhouses here in Australia. I’ll post you some excerpts, just for the record:

To try and answer your questions:

“What percentage are stunned properly, if at all?”

For cattle I watched the kill area for about 10 mins and in that time they slaughtered about 5-6 cattle and of those one was not stunned properly. Another one was thrashing so much when her throat was slit she fell off the table. I don`t know if she was stunned properly or not. I suppose that makes it about 1/5 not stunned properly that I saw but it was only a 10 minute sample.

“I have heard stories from a very reliable source, who used to work in an abattoir (cattle), that eyes are “shot” out and just left hanging down their faces. ”

In the one I was at they used a metal bolt gun stunner – they eyes were left in. I am sure it happens though.

“What percentage of chickens pull their heads up and don’t get zapped or have their throats slit before they tumble into the boiling vats? ”

A lot of chickens were flapping madly when throats were slit – there was no one monitoring the stun area and there is no vet at the chicken abbatoir. I would estimate a good 30% are not stunned. There are also some chickens where the throat is not slit properly and they do not bleed out properly and so go into the scalding tank still alive – these are called “red chickens” as they are still full of blood.

“How do the kill the sheep?  Are they supposed to be stunned?  How do they get through all the wool when they slit their throats? ”

They hold an electric stunner to their head for a prescribed length of time. This renders them unconcious for about 30 sec (I think its 30 sec). The knife has to be very sharp to get through the wool – also Halal slaughter requires one slit to the throat only. The person cutting throats that I saw had a blunt knife and was sawing at the throats – he was repremanded by the vet.

“Kangaroos?  Don’t they come in already dead?  Shot?  Are you going to tell me that live kangaroos are coming in to an abattoir to be killed? ”

No sorry I should have said kangaroo processing plant not abbatoir/ Yes they are shot – must be a single head shot for human consumption. There is no regulation for pet food. Any Joeys with mums killed  have their heads hit on a rock/ the ground to kill them.

. . .

Anyhow…..I thought I would post a few other things I forgot to say about the abbatoirs – Don`t read if you don`t want to as it is horrible.

– When the workers pull the chickens out of the crates to hang them by their legs there are sometimes dead chickens and these are thrown into a bin. When the vet from uni looked into the bin there were at least 4 chickens in there alive huddled there – other dead chickens were being thrown on top of them.

– When the chicken crates are used they then go through an industrial washer and sometimes there are live chickens still in them that were “forgotten” and they get put through the washer too. If they survive they can often be found lying on the ground at the back of the shed – in a terrible state as you can imagine.

– Mortality of the chickens in the crates gets up to 5% – this is a lot when you consider how many chickens are there – for example if there are 30,000 then 1500 die from heat, stress etc before they are slaughtered.

– The stunner at the cattle abbatoir is set for a particular size cow and if a larger one comes through then in may not work well enough. If a cow is stunned twice and it doesnt work then they have to go and get a rifle out of a locked box and then shoot the cow. As you can imagine this takes time and meanwhile the cow is standing there, having recieved two blows to the head.

– Both sheep and cattle have a full view of the slaugheter floor, blood, and other dead animals while they are waiting to be stunned.

– The cattle race up to the slaughter point is in the slaughter room so the cattle can hear and smell eveything for a good length of time before they are killed.

– Fetal Calf Serum – When cows which are pregnant near to term are slaugheterd the uterus with the calf is sent to another room where the calf is taken out (dead), hooked up on two metal hooks and bled into a big bottle. The serum is sold to pharmaceutical companies to be used for diagnositic tests and vaccines etc.

There are penalties if the cow is pregnant (due to welfare implications because the calf obviously doesnt die straight away and is in distress when the mum is slaughtered) but now apparently some corporations which own farms are delibrately getting the cows pregnant before slaugheter so they can get more money for the calf serum. As they own the farms and abbatoirs they get no penalities.

. . .

Well I went to see the pigs be killed today. I don`t actually know how I am holding things together atm I am an emotional wreck.

I will post what I saw today as people have said that it has strengethened their reslove and I hope it can lend weight to arguments with meat eaters.

Today it was like seeing Earthlings in real life about a foot away from you. A pig thrashed off the killing table onto the floor and lay on the ground in her own blood kicking and thrashing for about 2 minutes less than an quarter of a meter away from me. The vet assured me she was dead and the kicking was only reflexes. I hope this was true.

2500 – 3000 pigs a day are slaughtered at this abbatoir. That is 21,000 a week.

We went to look at the pigs in their pens before they were killed and so many of them were lame and had big abscesses on their sides. One pig looked as though he had ripped a trotter off he was so lame he could barely walk and was trembling all over. I told the vet and showed him the pig and he said if the pigs cannot walk up the race to the slaughter floor they are shot in the pen.

In terms of what people have been commenting about the desensitisation I think this is 100% accurate. Our tutor told us back at uni that he has become desensitised and doesn`t see meat as an animal – just a package in the supermarket. I pointed out that this kind of disengagement is what happened with the Nazis and the Jews.

There you have it.