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Licentiate thesis, 2012

Slaughter - not only about animals

Wiberg, Sofia Elisabet;


In order to get meat for human consumption animals have to be slaughtered. In Sweden, about 450,000 cattle are slaughtered every year; in 2011 93% of these were slaughtered at the 16 largest slaughter plants. Maintaining acceptable animal welfare standards in the industrial slaughter of animals places great demands on the management and staff. Good animal welfare means that consideration has been given to the animals' biology and subjective experience and to its possibilities to adapt to the environment. Previous research has shown that the interior design in a slaughter plant and the way animals are handled are important for animal welfare. The aim of the studies included in this thesis was to use an interdisciplinary approach to describe and analyse human-animal interactions around the slaughter of cattle, to identify important factors for the maintenance of good animal welfare. In the first study, pre-defined behaviours of randomly chosen animals and the stockpersons handling them prior to slaughter were recorded. In the second study, data was collected through ethnographic observations at slaughter and interviews with stockpersons and slaughter plant management. Results show that a part of the animals were driven to stunning and stunned without performing or receiving any of the pre-defined behaviours. The behaviours perceived as most detrimental for the animal welfare were observed only a few times. A theme that recurred in the ethnographic observations and interviews with stockpersons and management was denoted work flow, meaning that there was a smooth flow in the work without unwanted interruptions. For management, work flow was important for efficient production and for stockpersons for the feeling of a good working day. Animal flow is crucial for work flow and can have a major impact on animal welfare. A good planning of the incoming animal transports is an important factor to maintain a good animal welfare. An appropriately designed slaughter plant interior can facilitate the driving of animals and thus promote a smooth and even animal flow and a good work flow. Routines and methods for the driving of animals at slaughter plants need to be further discussed to avoid unnecessarily rough driving.


animal welfare; behaviour; cattle; handling; slaughter plant; stockperson

Published in

Avhandling (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för husdjurens miljö och hälsa)

2012, number: 5
ISBN: 978-91-576-9086-9
Publisher: Institutionen för husdjurens miljö och hälsa, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

Authors' information

Wiberg, Sofia Elisabet
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science
Agricultural Occupational Health and Safety

URI (permanent link to this page)