Today Eyes on Animals gave a training course on the advantage of using stunners to a slaughterhouse in Bilecik, Turkey. Normally the cattle here have their throats cut while restrained upright in a rotating box and are then turned onto their backs. The suffering is horrible as the animals are fully conscious, thus they feel all the excruciating pain of the cut through deep tissue, trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries etc… plus they are aware of the surroundings and thus very fearful.
Because cattle have a vertebral artery, blood still supplies the brain after the throat cut is made, meaning cattle do not die quickly after the cut is made. We watched cattle that, even 63 seconds after the cut was made, were still blinking their eye and were fully conscious in horrible pain. The slaughterhouse has a non-penetrating “mushroom” stunner which they use on every 26th animal if the suffering lasts too long, but this is unacceptable. Non-penetrating stunners do not work reliably on large animals and are even forbiden in the EU for use on animals above 10kg as they only hurt large animals but are not strong enough to render them unconscious. So we taught them today how to use a penetrating captive bolt stunner and how stunning them this way would drastically reduce the cattle’s fear and pain. They could not accept pre-stunning (for fear it would not be seen as halal by their customers) but were willing to use a penetrating captive bolt stunner right after the cut was made.
It is still disturbing but a lot less cruel than what we saw at the beginning when the cattle were left so long in a conscious state with blood pouring out. We have now given them one of our penetrating captive-bolt stunners and will remain in contact with them. We will also be in touch with one of their main customers – a huge restaurant chain, to get a new clear protocol in place that effectively reduces pain. We cannot close such plants or stop slaughter, but by talking to these people we can make slaughter a bit more humane for now.