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Slaughter: Process






Slaughter: Process








Beef Cattle

Dairy Cows

Veal Calves



Animal Agriculture: Selected Bibliography


Kosher Slaughter: Shackling & Hoisting




The reality of meat production includes extremely inhumane treatment of animals at the slaughterhouse. Slaughter systems are modeled on factory mass-production techniques, which consist of specialized operations proceeding along an assembly line. The slaughter line is exactly the same except that it is a disassembly line, and each "unit" is a live, sentient, innocent animal.


  Official Protocol



Animals are safely transported from a farm, feedlot, or ranch.

Animals are transported great distances in crowded conditions, often in extreme weather.


Animals are gathered in holdings pens for inspection and official certification of health.

Animals are pulled off transport, many dehydrated, wounded, or frozen to sides of trucks. Downed animals thrown onto outside "dead piles," others held in pens.


Animals are led to chutes and ramps, willingly following others.

Animals chased up ramps, resisting and screaming. Workers use electric prods and pipes to force animals forward. If animals fall, they are chained and pulled forward. If their legs get stuck they are cut off to free them and then chained and dragged through line.


Animal is placed in a restraining device.

Animal is restrained in a chute with conveyers underneath and on the sides to keep the line moving. Alternatively, animal's head is placed in a fixed head restraint.


Animal is stunned (except in the Halal and Kosher process). A quick, high-pressure single stun is applied resulting in unconsciousness.

Animal struggles and is stunned repeatedly with captive bolt guns, penetrating stunners, or pressure devices. If official devices aren't successful, frustrated workers use pipes or shovels. Animal may fall and become entangled in sides of restraining chute; body parts are chopped off to free them.


Unconscious animal is shackled and hoisted onto an overhead conveyor.

Often still conscious, screaming animal is shackled and hoisted onto an overhead conveyor.


Unconscious animal's throat is cut, blood is drained and safely collected. Animal dies while still unconscious.

Worker slashes at animal's throat (they are frequently still fully awake). Blood splashes on worker and animal, contaminating the flesh, and drains to blood pit below. Animal may disengage from chain above and collapse onto workers and into filth underfoot.


Electrical stimulation is applied to improve color and texture and make skinning easier.

Electrical stimulation jolts animal and can cause pre-cooking.


Esophagus is separated from trachea and bound off to prevent contents of first stomach from contaminating carcass.

Parts of throat are pulled apart, and stomach contents contaminate rest of animal.


Head is skinned and then removed. Feet and legs separated from carcass to prevent contamination with manure and dirt dropped from hooves. Legs are skinned.

As conveyor moves, head and legs are skinned, even if animal is still living. Ears and other head parts are cut off. Feet and legs are cut away. Manure, urine, and dirt contaminate carcass.


Hide is cut away with care to avoid surface damage for value of leather.

Top and sides of hide are stripped away using air or electrically powered rotary knives. Workers have reported, and video exposs confirmed, animals may still be found struggling to survive.


Carcass is opened and split. Tail is skinned and removed. Remainder of hide is collected to be sent to tanning.

Some animals have even been reported to last until the final skinning. The line speeds move animals through so quickly that bottlenecks occur and skinners and butchers get in each others' way.


Carcass is completely eviscerated. Abdominal organs, including the liver, are set aside for inspection.

Inspection is meant to catch disease and contaminants before butchering, but spot checks are not thorough enough to identify serious dangers. Inspectors are separated from the line and can't see contamination as it occurs.


Carcass is split into two sides and the inedible material sent for rendering.

The most serious pathogens, like BSE, are passed on during the "AMR" (advanced meat recovery) process, where machines recover meat from spine and neck bones. This ends up in products like ground beef and taco fillings.


Meat is washed using high-pressure steam, water, chemicals, and various acids.

Intended to cleanse meat and flush away bits of bone and blood, instead this becomes a source of food contamination when pathogens are spread through the process. Drains clog and waste backs up into area, compromising sanitation.


Meat is weighed and chilled.

Carcasses sour when not properly chilled. The spoiled meat is used in pet foods and processed meats.


See also Slaughter: Photos