Animal welfare at the time of slaughter

Animal welfare at the time of slaughter

More than 600 million animals are slaughtered every year in the Netherlands. It is important that the killing of animals is done with respect for the animal, without unnecessary stress and suffering. It is also important for companies that slaughter methods are economically feasible. Our experts investigate which methods meet both requirements.

Measure pain perception of animals

What impact do stunning and killing methods and slaughtering have on animal welfare? To be able to determine that objectively, Wageningen Livestock Research is investigating the pain perception of animals. For that we look at animal behaviour and physiological parameters, such as cardiac and brain activity. We also monitor how long it takes for an animal to lose consciousness and to what extent the animal is stressed.

We are also investigating the best methods for on-farm killing of animals. For example, if euthanasia is necessary in case of illness, or if there is a need for on-farm culling during large-scale outbreaks of animal diseases such as swine fever or avian influenza.

Increasingly more attention for fish welfare

In fisheries and aquaculture, attention to animal welfare is on the rise. Stunning the fish prior to killing contributes to the well-being of fish and thus to social acceptance of fishing and aquaculture. Among other things, we investigate methods for electrically stunning farmed fish and caught flatfish and cod on board of sea fishing vessels.

Recommendations and advice

Based on our research we make recommendations for new laws and regulations and we provide information and advice to slaughterhouses and primary producers to improve working methods.

Invest in knowledge development

Knowledge development to reduce the burden on all kinds of animal species in the final phase of their lives is a theme that will require increasing attention in the future. Companies, organizations and governments can come to us with questions about this.

Ask your research question

We are glad to help you find an answer to questions about animal health and welfare. Please contact our expert: