Today we visited a slaughterhouse that leased one of our stunners 2 years ago to render the cattle unconscious before slaughter. The chief butcher is a strong supporter of the captive bolt stunner and uses it as often as he can to stun cattle first. He cannot use it on all cattle as in Turkey the owner of the animal decides, there is no national legislation making stunning mandatory, but he is really pushing it.
Sadly many farmers and cattle traders still believe in the myth that rendering animals unconscious first is not Halal and thus many refrain from accepting stunning. The sheep are never stunned first. The sheep were handled quite roughly – pulled by their horns and legs, flipped onto their backs, and had their throats cut open while fully conscious. It was clear that the sheep were frightened to death. We helped move the sheep in a more humane way (upright and not dragged by a leg or horns) and felt their heartbeat racing. Although it was very bad, it was still better than at most other Turkish slaughterhouses where sheep are hoisted fully off the floor by one leg and left hanging for 10 to 40 seconds before having their throat cut. Nevertheless what we saw today is not acceptable. We are encouraging that they stun sheep too before slaughter, like is done at a small sheep slaughterhouse in Istanbul.
Progress is slow in Turkey as it is difficult to change bad habits and centuries of cultural perceptions, but via dialogue and practical help, we have hope for the future when animals will receive more compassion.