Effect of animal welfare audits of slaughter plants by a major fast food company on cattle handling and stunning practices

Temple Grandin, PhD
Dept. of Animal Science
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2000, 216:848-851


To determine the percentages of cattle that are stunned correctly and that vocalize (moo or bellow) when a major meat-buying customer conducts slaughter plant audits.


Survey of existing practices.

Sample Population

22 federally inspected slaughter plants.


The 3 variables evaluated in each slaughter plant were stunning efficacy, insensibility on the bleed rall, and vocalization.


Of the 22 slaughter plants, 17 (77%) rendered > 95% of the cattle insensible with a single shot from a captive bolt stunner. Twenty slaughter plants (91%) rendered 100% of the cattle completely insensible before hanging them on the bleed rail. Eighteen of 21 (86%) slaughter plants achieved cattle vocalization scores of < 3%. The mean vocalization score for all slaughter plants was 3.08%. Vocalization ranged from 0.66 to 17%.


Results of this study indicate that audits of slaughter plants by major meat-buying customers may motivate the meat industry to improve handling and stunning practices.

This paper reports on the first 6 months of the 1999 Audits of U.S. slaughter plants. The entire 12 month audit results are posted in the survey section.

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