Skip to main content
Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Overview of the practices of on-farm emergency slaughter of cattle in the Nordic countries

Skuladottir, Gislina; Phythian, Clare Joan; Holmoy, Ingrid Hunter; Myhrene, Guro; Alvasen, Karin; Martin, Adam Dunstan


On farm mortality is an increasing problem in cattle production systems in the Nordic countries. It represents an economic loss to the farmer and raises questions of sustainability, food waste and animal welfare. On-farm emergency slaughter (OFES) represents, in some situations, an opportunity for a farmer to salvage some of the economic value from an animal that cannot be transported to a slaughterhouse. The basis of the regulation of OFES in the Nordic countries originates largely from legislation from the European Union. However, this review has found that the availability and practice of OFES in the Nordic countries differs considerably. For example, in Norway 4.2% of all cattle slaughter is OFES, whilst in Iceland OFES has never been recorded. National food safety authorities have issued differing regulations and guidelines regarding the suitability of sick and injured animals for OFES. This review shows there is a paucity of data regarding the incidence and reasons for the use of OFES of cattle in the Nordic countries and points out the need for more investigation into this area to improve veterinary education, consumer protection and animal welfare.


Animal hygiene; Cattle; Mortality; On farm emergency slaughter; Slaughter

Published in

Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica
2022, volume: 64, number: 1, article number: 9
Publisher: BMC

Authors' information

Skuladottir, Gislina
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Phythian, Clare Joan
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Holmoy, Ingrid Hunter
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Myhrene, Guro
Norwegian Food Safety Authority
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Martin, Adam Dunstan
Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Associated SLU-program

Food Waste

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)