Don’t Judge Slaughterhouses Too Quickly

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One time I was explain­ing to my friends how a slaughterhouse for cattle operates. I do not know ev­ery single detail about cattle operations, and I also didn’t grow up with cattle, but I did know a bit more than they did.

They obviously knew the cattle were killed, but didn’t understand how it all happened — they assumed it was gruesome and the an­imals endured a lot of pain.

Well, those assumptions aren’t true.

When livestock arrive at a plant, they must have water at all times and are given food if they are stay­ing for extended periods of time. It’s also extremely im­portant that the animals un­dergo a stress-free handling. If the livestock are stressed right before slaughter, their meat quality will decrease significantly and will not be suitable for consumer pur­chasing.

An S-shaped cattle chute is often used for getting cattle into the slaughter­house, because they like to walk in circles and the S re­minds them of that motion. This makes the cattle feel inclined to move forward on their own.

Workers use a cap­tive bolt gun to knock the cattle unconscious. People who use the gun are highly trained, and when used cor­rectly, the captive bolt gun is painless.

The Humane Slaughter Act, approved in 1958, was also designed to decrease suffering of livestock during slaughter. The Food Safety and Inspection Service in­spectors are responsible for visiting the plants, oversee­ing the operation and mak­ing sure the animals are handled properly.

If inspectors find prob­lems, the operation has the potential to be shut down.

It’s also interesting how our culture is so accustomed to hunting shows, fishing shows, wildlife killing other wildlife, yet discussing how cattle are slaughtered can be such a taboo subject. This, once again, can lead to mis­informed people if never discussed.

Alyssa is a senior ma­joring in public relations and advertising/agriculture communications.

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