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Popular Fact

Animals are humanely slaughtered


A slaughterhouse is a stressful place for humans, let alone for the animals queuing up hearing the fear in their bretheren and smelling their blood on the floor. Animals are killed/stunned using methods such as electrocution, masceration, and asphyixation in a Co2 chamber, which if you want to beleive this is a humane method we suggest watching the first 15 minutes of Dominion.
Additionally the stunning methods are often ineffective (see below for stats for each method).

Slaughter & Stunning Methods

Captive bolt

With this slaughter method, a ‘gun’ fires a metal bolt into the brain of the animal causing it to lose consciousness. This is typically used on larger animals (e.g. cows) and is fallible due to the accuracy required and the movement of the panic-stricken animals making precision difficult. According to a 2013 study:

Inadequate stunning occurred in 12.5% [of cases]
- Assessment of stun quality at commercial slaughter in cattle shot with captive bolt - S Atkinson, A Velarde, B Algers - 2013 - p476.

Given the study was conducted with a observer present one would assume this represents a best case scenario as well, as the slaughterhouse workers will be trying to give their best impressions to comply with EU regulations.

This means that more than one in ten cattle went to be ‘stuck’ fully conscious, on top of the experience of queueing up to be slaughtered.


For medium-sized animals (pigs, sheep, calves), this is performed through ‘tongs’ placed on either side of the animals head in order to pass a current through the brain and render them temporarily unconscious. In some cases, it can also be applied to the animal’s heart in order to provide a lethal shock. RSPCA UK

For chickens, this takes the form of an ‘electric bath’, where chickens are hung upside down by their legs and forced into an electrified vat of water to stun them, prior to their throats being slit by a rotating blade. RSPCA UK

According to a 2009 study conducted in Holland:

Based on the observed differences in technical settings (V, Hz), and between animal differences in impedance and between animal differences in sensitivity, it is highly probable that large numbers of birds are inadequately stunned during current usage of the water bath technique in slaughterhouses.
- Electrical water bath stunning of poultry. An evaluation of the present situation in Dutch slaughterhouses and alternative electrical stunning methods - V.A. Hindle, E. Lambooij, et al. - 2009 - p15

This means that “large numbers”


Animals are lowered into a chamber of a high-CO2 mixture for up to five minutes in order to ensure their death.


Used for larger animals, this is the process of hoisting the animal by the back legs and slicing its neck to sever large arteries to ensure the animal dies of blood loss. RSPCA UK

United Kingdom

Current law requires animals to be stunned before slaughter - rendering them insensible to pain until death supervenes. However, exemptions are allowed that permit non-stun slaughter for religious purposes, i.e. Muslim and Jewish communities.

Additional Sources

Article Contributors

Sam Martin