Small abattoirs have a big part to play in animal welfare, says HSA
The Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) says the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare highlights the decline of licensed abattoirs in the UK since the 1930s and the subsequent impact on animal welfare.
The HSA was one of the stakeholders taking part in the inquiry, providing its input and independent advice on animal welfare matters within its remit which is reflected in the report.
The report shows how the number of licensed abattoirs in the UK has declined over the years, from 30,000 registered in the 1930s to just under 250 today. The loss of smaller, local abattoirs has meant that livestock may be required to travel longer distances within the UK and, in some cases by sea also, both within and beyond the UK.
“A network of smaller abattoirs would not only reduce the length of journeys undertaken by livestock, in both distance and duration, but contribute significantly to the provenance and integrity of locally-produced meat.”
Technical director at the HAS, Charlie Mason, said: “The HSA was pleased to contribute towards this report, giving both verbal and written evidence to the group. A network of smaller abattoirs would not only reduce the length of journeys undertaken by livestock, in both distance and duration, but contribute significantly to the provenance and integrity of locally-produced meat. Timely emergency and casualty slaughter is also an important animal welfare provision which may be more easily met by smaller abattoirs.”
Farmers also expanded on their concerns for animal welfare and described time in lairage as a major driver for their response, specifying the mixing of their animals with larger groups of unfamiliar animals. Their evidence stated that processing of the animal is usually faster at smaller abattoirs, where there are fewer other animals waiting, and they may able to accompany their animals to the point of slaughter, if desired.
A farmer from Orkney stated: “Small abattoirs give lots of native breeds experienced, relaxed handling, giving the animals the time they need to feel confident to move calmly to the stunning area.”