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MARKETS - A brutal business
Posted 1 October 2002
Another scientific survey has found that cattle processed through livestock markets are more bruised when they reach the slaughterhouse than animals sent directly from farms to the killing factories.
The handling of animals at 12 auctions was studied and a count kept of how often they were beaten and poked with sticks - or prodded with an electric goad.
Almost three-quarters of auctioned cattle had some bruising. Animals were most often hit around the spine, hips and shoulders and the authors' analysis of the bodies of some 50,000 animals slaughtered during the survey period revealed that these were the areas showing most bruising.
The pressure to process animals as rapidly as possible was identified as a likely cause of rough handling.
Furthermore, the problem is almost certainly even worse than the research has recognised. Investigators (who were financed by Vegetarian Economy Green Agriculture) had difficulty gaining access to non-public areas at markets - where handling is usually harsher - and the use of electric goads, though traumatic for the animals, does not show up as carcase damage.
C.A Weeks et al, 'Influence of the design of facilities at auction markets and animal handling procedures on bruising in cattle'. Veterinary Record, June 15, 2002.