In the covenant ‘onbedwelmd slachten volgens religieuze riten' (i.e. slaughtering without stunning according to religious rituals’) of June 2012 the government, slaughterhouses and religious organisations agreed to improve slaughtering so that it is consistent with Islamic or Jewish traditions. Wageningen University & Research carried out a number of studies into the possible consequences of the measures in the covenant.
Research on slaughering without stunning
In the convenant (Dutch) certain areas were identified which require further investigation to safeguard or improve animal welfare during slaughter without stunning.
- The current situation of slaughter without stunning in The Netherlands
- Validation of indicators to assess (un)consciousness
- Restraining cattle in an upright or an inverted position
- Reducing time to loss of consciousness after neck cut
Wageningen Livestock Research carried out research on these topics on behalf of the Ministry. In the report below the conclusions are summarized:
The underlying studies
Below you will find the reports that form the basis for the report.
1. Current situation of slaughter without stunning
The current situation of slaughter without stunning in The Netherlands was identified by performing observations of cattle slaughter in 27 different Dutch slaughter plants. Wageningen Livestock Research performed these observations together with Dutch Food and Safety authorities (NVWA).
2. Validation of indicators to assess (un)consciousness
Indicators to assess unconsciousness were validated in two different studies, in sheep and in veal calves. In these studies reflexes and behavioural observations were compared with brain activity as recorded by an electroencephalogram.
3. Restraining cattle in an upright or an inverted position
A comparative study of the responses of cows to upright and inverted restraining were assessed under standardized conditions in a commercially available restraining box.
4. Reducing time to loss of consciousness after neck cut
Information from these different studies was supplemented with information from an observational study in Dutch slaughter plants as part of the EU project ‘Borest’. This data and information was analysed to obtain insight into the possibilities for time reduction to loss of consciousness after neck cut without stunning.