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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

    Associated SLU-program

    Food Waste

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)