Slaughter without pre-stunning
No more non-stun, no exceptions
With the UK's high animal welfare standards, it can be easy to presume that all animals slaughtered for meat are killed humanely and with care. Sadly, not every animal's death is painless. It's all too true that the practice of slaughter without pre-stunning can cause suffering to millions of farm animals.
Current UK law requires animals to be stunned before slaughter - rendering them insensible to pain until death supervenes. However, exemptions are allowed that permit non-stun slaughter for religious purposes, i.e. Muslim and Jewish communities.
We acknowledge that religious beliefs and practices should be respected. However, all animals should be treated humanely at the time of killing and therefore be stunned prior to slaughter. At a time where conversations about animal sentience are more prominent than ever, we must prioritise ending the avoidable suffering of countless farm animals. There doesn't necessarily need to be a ban on meat thats important to religious communities to ensure farm animals receive a more humane death.
Food Standards Agency (FSA) figures
The latest FSA figures, published in February 2019, show an estimate of 90 million animals were slaughtered without pre-stunning in 2018:
- 87.5 million meat chickens (9.7 percent of total slaughtered)
- 3.2 million sheep (25 percent of total slaughtered)
- 20 thousand cattle (1.1 percent of total slaughtered)
None of the UK governments within the UK have a legal requirement to ensure all animals are stunned before slaughter. However all animals currently slaughtered in Scotland, Northern Ireland are.
- In the UK, 58 percent of Halal meat comes from animals which have been stunned before slaughter and certified Halal.
- All animals slaughtered under the Shechita (for Kosher) are non-stunned.
- When an animal is killed without being stunned, it will only become unconscious and insensitive to pain after prolonged blood loss, resulting in a terrifying and excruciating death. This means they can be conscious from 20 seconds to over two minutes, depending on the species.
To find out more about non-stun slaughter, see our briefing on improving the welfare of farm animals at the time of their death.
New opportunities in Bill amendments
The ambitious Kept Animals Bill from the UK Government provides us with a new opportunity to make our voices heard.
There are two proposed amendments aiming to ban the export of non-stunned meat and to introduce a "slaughter to order" system in England. This would mean that we could no longer export this meat to other countries, providing only to the domestic communities that need it. This also means that any slaughter without pre-stunning should only occur to meet the demand of the local religious communities.
While we believe that no animals should suffer from avoidable pain and distress and we support a full ban on the practice of non-stun, this amendment could offer interim, almost immediate changes with the Bill expected to pass in early 2022 and come into force shortly after. This is not a perfect solution, so whilst this is a much needed change, we will continue to campaign to end non-stun slaughter in its entirety.
No animal should experience the unbearable pain and distress of a barbaric death, no exceptions.