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Humane Slaughter Houses- And Why We Need More of Them | Addy Huth


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From my experience, you haven’t truly felt a loving connection with an animal until you have spent some time with a cow. I have a house in Prince Edward Island, and while I’m there I spend as much of my time as I can with cows. In fact, I will actually go into the stalls and sit with the cows- which, I admit sounds really strange, but that is likely because the common perception of cows is that they are strictly “food animals,” rather than friendly animals, or pets. Due to my connection and love for cows, I thought it would be fitting to write about a massive injustice that I feel these animals are facing in our world.

Internationally, slaughterhouses are recognized for being gruesome and extremely inhumane. Have you ever seen a truck full of pigs or cows on its way to the slaughterhouse? 40- 45 animals are packed into the trailer on a journey of sometimes as many as 2400 kilometers, even in the sweltering heat of summer, and the freezing cold of winter. Not to mention that the trailers are essentially open, revealing dozens of animals to windchill on a highway. (U.S Department of Agriculture) However, the true absence of humanity takes place in the slaughter houses themselves, where the animals are dragged off of the trucks by ropes that are tied around their legs. Following this, the cows are forced through a channel and then shot in the head with a stun-gun that is supposed to make the animal numbed to any pain. However, many of the people that work at slaughterhouses are not trained properly to shoot this gun and the cows enter the phase of slaughter which involves butchering, completely conscious. The rest of the process is gory and and appalling so I will refrain from illustrating it. Luckily, there is a more positive alternative.

Mary Temple Grandin is an animal rights activist who has been the representative for the animal welfare reform in the cattle industry for almost 30 years. She says that “we can eat meat ethically, but we’ve got to give animals a good life.” Temple Grandin really wanted to feel what a cow was going through in the last hours of their lives in the slaughter house. She acted as a cow and followed them through the process, laying down in muddy corrals, crawling through metal channels, and standing in the stin boxes . The concluded that there were MANY ways to improve the humanity of cow slaughter.

Temple Grandin invented the Curved Chutes and the Centre- Track Restrainer system. The curved chutes relieve the stress the cow is feeling as it prevents them from seeing what is ahead or behind them. If they see what they are in for, the become panicked, which leads to injuries. This technique also incorporates a cow’s natural instinct, which is to walk in a circle back to where they came from. Additionally, the Centre- Track Restrainer allows the worker with the job of stunning the cow to do it with maximum effectiveness. The machine picks up the cow by the belly and holds them still while the process takes place. This will ensure that the cow is stunned properly so that they do not feel any pain.

Although the slaughtering of cows is continuously a sad and stigmatic subject, the world of animal welfare could be completely transformed if all slaughterhouses could follow the path of Dr. Temple Grandin. Realistically, there are millions of people in the world that would never give up meat, and even vegetarians like me could support that if the meat was obtained in a humane manner as explained above. Additionally, buying local meat is extremely beneficial for the cows and for the environment as they do not have to suffer the strenuous truck rides, and less fossil fuels are released into our atmosphere.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Temple Grandin and her research on humane livestock handling, you can visit the National Geographic website.

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