Notes accompanying the Tom Lang Ltd slaughter footage

Posted on the 11th December 2009

Part 1: Neck Dislocation

Two of the slaughtermen dislocate the necks of stunned sheep immediately after ‘sticking’. We understand that this constitutes a breach of the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations (WASK), Schedule 6:

  • (2) Subject to sub-paragraph (3) below, after severance of at least one of the carotid arteries or the vessels from which they arise of any animal that has been stunned before bleeding, no person shall cause or permit any further dressing procedure or any electrical stimulation to be performed on the animal before the bleeding has ended and in any event not before the expiry of–
  • (d) in the case of sheep, goats, pigs and deer, a period of not less than 20 seconds.

Part 2: Neck dislocation and rapid decapitation after sticking

At the end of one shift, one slaughterman sticks, then immediately dislocates the necks and removes the heads of sheep. The animals are still bleeding and the time between sticking and removing the head is significantly short of 20 seconds. Again, this is a clear breach of WASK (see above).

Part 3: Pigs being kicked

In the stun room, one man – possibly a trainee – routinely kicks pigs in the face and elsewhere in order to get them to move. The man he works alongside does not stop this behaviour.

WASK, Schedule 3, Part III: No person shall inflict any blow or kick to any animal.

Part 4: Other violence

In this section, the film shows:

  • a pig being dragged by his tail: No person shall lift or drag, or cause or permit to be lifted or dragged, any animal by the head, horns, ears, feet, tail, fleece or any other part of its body in such a way as to cause it unnecessary pain or suffering (WASK, Schedule 3, Part III)
  • pigs being coerced to move with chains, tongs, kicks and blows: No person shall inflict any blow or kick to any animal (WASK, Schedule 3, Part III).

Part 5: Shackling before stunning

One pig was shackled before being stunned.

No person shall suspend, or cause or permit to be suspended, any animal before stunning or killing. (WASK, Schedule 4)

Part 6: Animals moved with undue force

In this section of the film, pigs and sheep are propelled into the stun room with considerable force.

The occupier of a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard and any person engaged in the movement of any animals shall ensure that every animal is moved with care and, when necessary, that animals are led individually. (WASK, Part 3, Schedule III)

Sheep are picked up and/or thrown by their fleeces.

No person shall lift or drag, or cause or permit to be lifted or dragged, any animal by the head, horns, ears, feet, tail, fleece or any other part of its body in such a way as to cause it unnecessary pain or suffering (WASK, Schedule 3, Part III)

Part 7: Improper stunning

As a first stun, the tongs were applied to either side of the body of one sheep. Clearly this did not stun the animal and a second stun on the head was then given.

No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, electrodes to stun any animal unless– (a) the electrodes are so placed that they span the brain, enabling the current to pass through it. (WASK, Schedule 5, part II)

Two sheep at the end of a group were stunned but became caught in the tong wire. Although they remained caught up for a considerable period of time, they were not re-stunned. The film shows that more than a minute elapses between stunning and them leaving the stun room.

No person shall stun, or cause or permit to be stunned, any animal unless it is possible to–
(a) bleed it without delay and in accordance with Schedule 6; or
(b) kill it without delay and in accordance with Part III of this Schedule.
(WASK Schedule 5, Part II)

The film also shows a number of sheep receiving improper second stuns while on the hoist. If an animal requires additional stunning to ensure loss of consciousness (which should not be necessary if stunned correctly the first time), the tongs must span the brain and not – as our film shows – span the body, side-to-side, or front-to-back,

No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, electrodes to stun any animal unless– (a) the electrodes are so placed that they span the brain, enabling the current to pass through it. (WASK Schedule 5, Part II)

Part 8: Improper use of captive bolt?

Having electrically stunned seven sheep, the stun operator decides to use the captive bolt on the last two. (The following day, he uses the captive bolt on one group of sheep but these are the only occasions he decides not to electrically stun sheep.) The reason is not apparent to us but it does appear that the sheep are not effectively stunned.

Part 9: Delays in sticking

A number of sheep are left on the rail for considerable periods of time, adding as much as 50 seconds to the already unacceptable stun-to-stick intervals. Sometimes the slaughterer is not at his post; and on one occasion he leaves as the sheep arrives.

No person shall stun, or cause or permit to be stunned, any animal unless it is possible to–
(a) bleed it without delay and in accordance with Schedule 6; or
(b) kill it without delay and in accordance with Part III of this Schedule.
(WASK Schedule 5, Part II)

Part 10: Welfare issues re shackle falls

The number of animals falling from the shackles at this plant appears to be low but when it happens, it throws up some serious problems. In the first clip, a sheep falls post-stun and lands on the backs of other sheep, adding to their pain and distress. The plant layout should not allow this.

In the second clip, a pig falls from the shackles post-stun. The stun operators turn to look but they do not re-stun the animal. It is unclear who re-hoists the pig and how long it takes but such questions need to be answered.

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