Maintaining acceptable animal welfare during Kosher or Halal slaughter

Dr. Temple Grandin
Associate Professor
Colorado State University
Dept. of Animal Sciences
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1171

(Updated September 2012)


Performance and operation requirements for upright restraining equipment for Kosher or Halal slaughter to provide acceptable animal welfare.

  1. The restraint equipment must hold the animal in a comfortable upright position before and during religious slaughter.

  2. Operation of the equipment must be able to comply with the following minimum performance standards which are determined by observing 50 to 100 animals:

  3. If the animal's feet are lifted off the floor, the animal's body must be fully supported. Applies to all animal species.

  4. Devices that clamp the feet or hoisting or dragging the sensible animal by the head, feet, or legs must never be used. Applies to all animal species.

  5. On restraint devices that operate with either hydraulics or pneumatics, the controls must be designed so that the operator can incrementally control the amount of pressure applied to the animal by the head holder and other parts of the apparatus. Midstroke position control of cylinders is strongly recommended.

  6. Using the concept of optimum pressure, the device must apply sufficient pressure to provide the animal with the sensation of being held, but excessive pressure that would cause pain must be avoided.

  7. Moving parts of the restraint device should move with steady smooth motion. Sudden jerky motion causes animals to become agitated.

  8. Races (chutes) and restraint devices must have non-slip flooring.

  9. After the animal is completely restrained in the head holder, religious slaughter must be performed within 10 seconds. Animals fight restraint if held too long.

  10. Head holding devices should be designed to avoid excessive bending of the neck.

  11. The designs on this website contain many ideas for building a restrainer which will provide acceptable animal welfare. Innovative people are encouraged to invent restrainer devices that will conform to the this performance standard.

  12. Engineer restrainers to reduce noise such as metal clanging and banging and air hissing.

  13. A solid barrier must be built around the head holder to prevent the animal from seeing people and moving equipment while it is entering the equipment.

  14. The restrainer must be illuminated in such a manner to encourage animal entry. See other parts of www.grandin.com.

Troubleshooting animal welfare problems during Kosher or Halal slaughter

  1. Problem - Animals refuse to enter the restrainer.

    Solution - Install barriers so that people or moving equipment are not visible to the approaching animals. change the lighting. Animals are afraid of dark places. See troubleshooting guide in the American Meat Institute Guidelines. Eliminate air drafts that blow into the faces of approaching animals.

  2. Problem - Animals are agitated and struggle.

    Solutions -

    1. Install non-slip flooring. Animals panic when they slip.

    2. Perform slaughter within 10 seconds after restraint.

    3. Train people to handle animals quietly. Excited animals may struggle.

    4. Animals may struggle in pain if the knife is too short because it digs into the incision. Use a knife that is twice the width of the neck.

    5. Do not allow the wound to close over the knife during the cut.

    6. Excessive bending of the neck will cause agitation. Reduce bending of the neck.

    7. Excessive pressure by the restraint device can cause struggling. Pressure should be reduced.

    8. Adjust the restrainer so that the animal is held in a balanced upright position. If the animal feels off balance, it may struggle.

    9. Eliminate sudden jerky motion of moving parts. Install flow controls or speed reducers on hydraulic or pneumatic equipment.

  3. Problem - Cattle vocalization score of more than 5%.

    Solutions -

    1. Reduce excessive pressure applied to the animal's body. Signs of excessive pressure are vocalization, arched back due to excessive rear pusher gate pressure, tongue out, and labored breathing.

    2. Reduce excessive prod (goad) use.

    3. Remove sharp edges that stick into the animals.

    4. Head restrainer openings and head yokes should have rounded surfaces.

    5. Install non-slip flooring. Cattle that slip may vocalize.

    6. Perform slaughter within 10 seconds after restraint.

  4. Problem - Animals have prolonged sensibility and do not collapse within 30 seconds.

    Solutions -

    1. Use a very sharp knife that is twice the width of the neck.

    2. Frequent sharpening and honing of the knife can improve collapse time.

    3. A swift cut is best. Slow cutting is more likely to prolong sensibility.

    4. Calm animals will collapse more quickly than excited or agitated animals.

    5. Replace the slaughterman. Observations in slaughter plants indicate that some slaughtermen are more efficient than others. A skilled slaughterman can induce over 95% of the cattle to collapse within 30 seconds.

    6. Reduce pressure on the animal's body immediately after the cut.

    7. Animals that do not collapse within 30 to 40 seconds should be shot with a captive bolt, before removal from the restraint device.


Click here to return to the Homepage for more information on animal behavior, welfare, and care.