The team from Eyes on Animals and Animal Welfare Foundation were at Tekirdag slaughterhouse in Turkey today. This slaughterhouse made a very important improvement – it stopped live hoisting the cattle. It has replaced the horrible trip-floor box (watch this video to understand why this restraint box commonly used in Turkey is so bad : https://youtu.be/On-qkoXeKwc) with a new upright cattle restraint box with belly lift from Helmaks. This is a significant step for a Turkish slaughterhouse.
This method of upright restraint causes less suffering and panic than hanging them fully conscious by one leg, because the animal can at least stand in a natural position on all four legs upright. Nevertheless, in the upright restraint box it is crucial that after the cut to the throat is made the animal is kept in this restraint position until enough blood has left the body and the bovine is unconscious before releasing the head from the chin lift. If not, the open wound moves and falls onto equipment, causing excruciating pain while the animal is still conscious. It takes bovines several minutes to lose consciousness after their carotid arteries are cut, because blood still flows to the brain via the vertebral artery.
Today we had to teach them this, as on the first bovine today the operator of the upright restraint box released the chin lift almost immediately after the cut was made, and thus when the animal was still conscious. The bovine was in serious pain because his freshly cut carotid arteries and throat tissue touched the metal sides of the box. The following animals were kept, under our guidance, longer in the restraint position until we were sure they were unconscious. We showed the workers how to check for signs of unconsciousness before release, to make sure pain was limited. We will continue communicating directly with slaughterworkers in Turkey to try our best to reduce at least some of the suffering we see. We have also requested that Helmaks, the Turkish manufacturer of this upright restraint box, make clear instructions on the box on the importance of using it correctly. They have promised to do so.
Slaughter of conscious animals remains a serious problem, with the level of suffering always being too high. We are therefore, parallel to this work, also pushing for the use of stunning equipment in Turkish slaughterhouses so that animals can be rendered unconscious before having their throats cut. In Turkey electric stunning is performed on almost all poultry, but for other animal categories it remains a tricky subject to get accepted.