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Best practice: On-farm slaughter

Photo: Eytane Debruyne on Unsplash

(Click here for the Swedish version of this business case)

TYPE OF CASE/THEME

Small-scale slaughter of cattle at the farm with the gunshot method.

INITIATIVE IN SHORT

Slaughter directly at the farm, with the so called “gunshot method”, minimizes stress for the animal. The animal is shot at a distance with a gunshot in its forehead while among its herd friends in a familiar fold on the farm where it lived all its life. In addition to the suffering of the animal, the stress caused by handling animals during transport and in the slaughterhouse also causes a quality reduction of the meat. In Germany, slaughter by the gunshot method has been allowed since 2011 – inspite of the EU regulation – and there are, therefore, good practice examples to learn from.

IN WHAT WAY A BEST PRACTICE?

With the gunshot method the animal is immediately stunned in a stress-free and familiar environment and thereby does not release stress related pheromones which happens a lot at regular slaughter, alarming the other animals. The killing is undramatic. The level of stress can be observed directly, as well as measured by post mortem blood samples. The method also prevents stress related quality problems in the beef as DFD (Dark, Firm, Dry) that is often a problem in normal slaughter of shy, extensively raised cattle which can be hard to handle.

BACKGROUND

The amendment EU 2021/1374 to Annex III in EC 853/2004 has made slaughter at the holding of provenance legal in the EU and all EU countries are now working with its implementation. The amendment has come as a consequence of a broad opinion work from farmers, small-scale slaughterhouses, consumers and other groups concerned with animal welfare. Germany and Switzerland (independent of the EU regulation) did, however, not wait for the amendment and good practices have already developed on several hundreds of farms. In the research project “On-farm slaughter of cattle via gunshot method” by Katrin Schiffer at Kassel University in Germany and a similar research project at SLU the conditions for stress free slaughter have been investigated in detail based on practice.

While slaughter at the farm is now under certain circumstances legal, stunning the animal at a distance larger than 5 meters is not allowed in Sweden. The Swedish Food Agency is working on how the EU regulation on slaughter at the holding of provenance is to be implemented in Swedish legislation. As part of this process, stakeholders are invited to dialogue meetings. Representatives of the gunshot method participate in the dialogues.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The gunshot method requires professional skills and good planning and could be conducted by small-scale butchers. It is now important that national implementation rules will be based on experience from best practice.

MORE READING

European Commission: Food safety – animal products (revision of specific rules)

LINK TO THE SEMINAR FROM FEBRUARY 25TH

CONTACT

For more information contact Katrin Schiffer, responsible for the section small-scale slaughter and charcuterie at Eldrimner, Sweden`s resource center for artisan food:

Email: katrin.schiffer@lansstyrelsen.se

AN INITIATIVE FROM PROJECT MATLUST'S TRANSNATIONAL COMPONENT

MatLust is an EU project with the purpose of strengthening growth and sustainability within the food industry in the Stockholm region. In MatLust’s transnational component we are looking for best practice and good examples in the Baltic Sea region. Areas of interest are sustainable business models for SME in the food sector, innovative applications of public procurement and Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and initiatives for more resilient food systems. Good examples are documented and spread via MatLust's website and events.

Uppdaterad: 25 februari 2022
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