We made an announced visit last Friday to Ameco slaughterhouse in the Netherlands. They wanted to show us some concrete changes they had put in place since our previous visit to decrease fear and pain during slaughter. The most significant change was a better stun box, built by DGS, where the cattle could be accurately and quickly stunned, thanks to quiet and gentle hydraulics and a very well designed head restraint which comes from the front instead of pushing from the back.
We also found the ‘anti-noise wall” they had built between the lairage and the raceway/stunning area worked very well, we only measured max 74-80db this time (in 2018 it was around 90dB). The handlers at the raceway and stun area were calm and professional when moving the animals.
Ameco still need to decrease the abrupt noise created by the closing of the gates and the hissing sound of the pneumatic stunner but say they will work on that. We also recommended they make the sidewalls of the raceway higher, so the cattle cannot look over and see workers up ahead. The box can be improved further by placing a sensor that measures the length of the animal, so taller ones will never be squeezed too tightly. DGS was already working on this idea.
Slaughter remains slaughter, but there is a significant difference between slaughter with a huge amount of fear and pain, and slaughter where these things are taken into consideration and kept to a minimum. We therefore commend Ameco for investing time and money into these important improvements. Ameco is Halal certified, all cattle are rendered unconscious prior to slaughter, which is also positive.