Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Halal Slaughter: Questions And Controversies

While out on the town drinking a few nights back I met up with [Lunches With Sharks -you'll meet him later] and a group of his friends I was introduced by LWS  as 'The Hunter'.  I'm accustomed to getting a broadly interested and positive response to being introduced like this. For the most part North london's 40-something dads are in favor of hunting for the pot, and reluctantly approving of pest control. For starters we chatted about hunting in the UK, the number of Deer there are these days, Fox predation, the Badger controversy, all the usual stuff. But where's the fun in that?  Without exposure to new and sometimes surprising ideas there is no learning, no expansion of my worldview. I like the slightly troubling thoughts that take our knowledge in new and sometimes surprising directions, and I like to test them out on other people, hopefully clever people. With that in mind whilst out on the town I've told this story a few times, and the faces people pulled tell me this one is perhaps, not for the hard-of-thinking.

If you've read a bit of this blog you'll already know that my preferred outcome for my dinner is that the animal was just mooching along, minding its own business, when out of nowhere an arrow or bullet severed a major artery and the animal was already dead when the bang or twang reached its ears. For me there is no better way for the animal to meet its end. The way for most food animals in the western world is, er, slightly different. It's entirely acceptable to have the animal severely traumatised, then stunned, before being skinned alive-ish. There is little time for compassion in industrialised animal husbandry. There is another method, one that people have heard of, disapprove of, yet seem to know little about. The intersection between wilful ignorance and distain has proved to be an interesting hunting ground in the past, so I thought I'd shine a flashlight into the chasm of my own ignorance and learn a little more about how other cultures relate to their food. Starting with Islam.

When you ask the average English or American person about the practice of Halal slaughter, they start pulling faces, and words like 'barbaric', and 'sickening' are used. The speaker is seldom able to describe exactly what they are objecting to, just the feelings the very word 'Halal' evokes. Occasionally you meet someone who'll tell you "they just slit the animals throats"this statement is accompanied by a look of distaste. Hmmm anyone for wilful ignorance with a side order of distain? I dont know about you but that just about makes me drool with curiosity. We have found the edge of the map. I have to know more.

Here's a video made by some chaps who are adherents to the Muslim faith, demonstrating their slaughter practice, and giving their explanation of the effects that they believe make up the process. It's not particularly graphic, part one of the video deals with the method of submission so no blood is spilled.



What interests me about the practice we're shown is the neurological effects, and particularly the resonance between the slaughtered and the slaughter-man. The practice of keeping the animals together as much as possible makes a lot of sense. As a herding animal the goat will obviously be much more relaxed when in a herd setting - where many eyes and ears can keep a look out. Separated from the herd, the animal wants to rejoin the group as soon as possible, going into distress until its reunited.
The slaughter man we see obviously takes his responsibly to the animal seriously, he seems un-hurried and benign towards the animals, there's no beating and shouting. As he intones the words of his religious conviction he seems lost in a revery, which then seems to affect the goat, it calms right down.
Its as though once disorientated by being tipped onto its back, and having it's head pushed back, the goat takes its que from the slaughter man who is exhibiting great calmness. As he covers its eyes, and strokes it the goat really does look so relaxed that it could doze off at any moment.

"these animals are Bilingual they always know the name when its mentioned no matter what language and they always feel the heart of that slaughterer if he belives in that word or he dosent"

The first part I'm not yet convinced by, but the second part is looking at least plausible. Most people who hunt will tell you that they believe animals have a sense of our intention, go out without a gun the place teams with game, the same walk with a gun nothing about, a common theme in stories from woodland stalkers is 'I was watching the deer from a hidden place, when a dog walker yapping on the phone wearing a fluro cagoule walked into the scene and the deer ignored them'. Just as many hunters report having a sense of there being hunt-able species in the area, it would seem animals have a sense of there being predators in the area. If this is true (its at least anecdotally true) the slaughter man has obscured his intention by going into his revery.

Lets turn this on its head for a moment; if he's made loads of threatening noises, banged a stick on the ground in between whacking at the animals with it, the separated the animal from its heard before of and ministering more of the same. He would have pushed all the buttons that tell the animal to be hyper alert. Instead by pushing the other set of buttons: he's basically hypnotised the goat.

How would you like your dinner to die? Is this what you were expecting? What other traditions do you think I should be investigating? I welcome your thoughts and comments: have at it.

More of the usual nonsense soon enough, thanks for reading
SBW

62 comments:

LSP said...

Good post and I'd say animals often sense a threat. That means, of course, that they're plentiful when I go out hunting...

Cheers.

ps. have boots arrived?

Anonymous said...

I can do with out all of the mumbo jumbo chanting.

Mongolian herdsmen open the chest cavity and squeeze the sheep or goats heart until it stops beating.

If you want to look at another wide spread controversial slaughter method. Take a look at Kosher and the dumping of the non kosher carcase parts into the non kosher food chain.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

LSP
As I once explained to a non-hunter "there are vegetarians who pose more of a threat than we do"

SBW

PS yep arrived

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Anon

The mumbo jumbo chanting interests me greatly, its the way us humans still need to atribute meaning to our existence fascinates me, I see his practice as almost mechanical - a set of steps followed to an outcome, the words themselves being immaterial. The intention, state of mind of the slaughter man, the herd setting being the drivers. Made for a nice death for the animal.

I've seen videos of that kind of slight-of-hand slaughter before and yes both quick and clean.

LOL - yes the confluence of religion and commerce, both a tragedy and a comedy - a study in human bent-ness.

"Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made"

SBW

DaggaBoy said...

I'm not a particularly religious fellow so I'm not certain of how much of the prayer the sheep or goat understands before it submits to the slaughter man; I guess that's the nature of faith!

A friend of ours in Musina, about 60km south of the Zimbabwe border is a prolific hunter and has a very calming way with animals. He doesn't pray, but he speaks to animals softly and reassuringly and they respond well to this. He has two warthog sows running in a small paddock and when he goes to them he can tip them onto the ground and they just lie there - total submission.

Having spent some time in the sheds of our western country, I've watched shearers handle hundreds of sheep a day as they apply the 50-odd blows it takes to remove a fleece. There's nothing calming about the environment, far from it, but the men know the animals and they are very well versed in how to tip and restrain them, apply a bit of pressure hear or there, pull the head back... the sheep are totally submissive. No praying or kindness in the sheds.

I saw the Mercy Slaughter videos when they first came out and having never had an issue with Halal slaughter, it only confirmed my feelings. I really like Sam's point of "...restful slaughter through the cooperation of the animal, not forceful slaughter through the domination of the animal...". Certainly makes the commercial abattoir seem rather unpleasant.

My wife was a field officer with the livestock health and vertebrate pest authorities for a few years. Whether they were dealing with poultry or pigs, sheep or cattle, they would encounter farmers who showed great compassion for their livestock as well as cruel miserable bastards that don't deserve to live, let alone be responsible for the welfare of animals!

The captive bolt gun is no better than a good knife and if you watch the other videos, you'll see a big bodied ram succumb in seconds, it's very efficient. For me, I'm proud that I can bring home my meat with a bullet. I show respect and there is no cruelty in what I do; when you're alone in the bush with no one to judge your actions but yourself, that's when you know the kind of man you are.

I think the concept of the home kill would be interesting to look into. Not hunting, but domestic animals raised specifically for the purpose of meat. How are they killing animals at home? Do they exsanguinate through the heart or the jugular? Do they wash the meat and hang it to dry for a day? Soak it over night? Rub the blood over the carcass? I've heard a few interesting takes on the home kill from different ethnic groups - myself included.

weekendwoodsman said...

Interesting. I've read a little about Halal and Kosher slaughtering before, and it does seem preferable to modern industrial meat processing.

I think it was a great idea to bring this to people's attention!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

DaggaBoy

Thanks for taking the trouble to comment, I'm very much hoping this is one of the posts where the conversation takes my learning in new and surprising directions.

One of the things that seems to shape the way cultures develop their slaughter practices seems to be the weather, In northern europe we think nothing of hanging meat foe 20+ days, in the desert that wouldn't be advisable.

Elfa has just come back from Tunisia a festival is about to happen where people will slaughter their own sheep at home, she even saw a hoarding advertising that Carrefour (a european supermarket chain) had sheep in stock and you could pick them up from parking area B. Very different to how we live here!

SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

weekendwoodsman

Thanks man, I was really astounded at my own ignorance, i've eaten masses of halal meat and never really thought about it. I've regularly seen Halal condemned as being inhumane - but never with the caveat Inhumane in comparison to what?

I'll be following up this post with a few more around the theme.

SBW

Anonymous said...

"The mumbo jumbo chanting interests me greatly, its the way us humans still need to atribute meaning to our existence fascinates me"

I'm the complete opposite. I have absolutely no interest in the mumb jumbo. He could be reciting the rhyme "catch a little fishy" for all I care.

In reality the initial mechanics of Halal and Kosher slaughter are the same. Just a different mumbo jumbo. What gets taken and what gets left are different. I'm obviously talking about the commercial reality.

Federico said...

I think the video is interesting but hardly relevant. Those chaps are good, humane and whatnot. Would I buy meat from them? Yessir. But they breed and slaughter on a *small scale*.

A more relevant question seems to be: given that the overwhelming majority of meat comes from animals slaughtered in *industrial* conditions, due to cost reasons, would 'industrial halal slaughter' be equally, more or less humane than other methods? Similarly for kosher slaughter.

I do not claim I have an answer. What I think is likely though, is that every small scale abattoir would kill animals in a way that would look more humane, even if using the same methods used in larger scale.

I think the time these guys took to kill the animals, while admirable, would be considered time wasted in industrial settings, and thus there would be pressure to be quicker and less concerned about welfare.

Ron said...

From my point of view there are several contributing factors here;
1) Most modern men are completely oblivious to the source and processing of his meat. Any connection to slaughter, blood, animalkilling and often animalabuse is carefully deleted from the mind and memory. Thus anyone actually killing and/or slaughtering an animal is met with distrust and disgust.
Unfortunately I had the unpleasant opportunity to witness the western meatprocessingindustry up close and I did not last long... The stories and pictures I heard and have been shown by muslims I used to know and work with about their way of slaughtering are much more civilised than most of us care to believe.
2) There is a significant political aspect to the matter, too. There seems to be a large anti-islamsentiment among many people, or at least among the classes of people I used to live in. Why? Every day you see or hear some muslim commiting something horrible against western men. If that is not the case than they are at war with western men or with each other, thus continually posing a threat to us..... or so we are constantly told by the media and to be honest the muslimsociety in the enviroments I used to live do very little to prove those media wrong.
So, in the little and narrow minds of your average citizen, how can something like a halalslaughter be good, when it comes from that horribly frightening group of people like muslims??

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Federico

I doubt it, I'm yet to be convinced that any industrialised process can show our dineer the respect it deserves while it's still walking around.

SBW


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Ron

Yep. We're so busy fearing the enemies without and within that we dont see our freedom being eroded and the world going to hell in a hand basket. Sigh

SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Anon

"Where there's livestock, there's deadstock."

It all ends up in the food chain one wat or another

SBW

Federico said...

SBW,

Temple Grandin has dedicated her life to creating more umane ways of slaughtering animals in industrial settings. You might want to have a look at:

http://www.grandin.com/humane/rec.slaughter.html

Hippo said...

Let's put all this into perspective.

Have you seen Hyenas track, drag down and tear their prey to pieces? Big cats chasing their terrified quarry before sinking their teeth into and crushing spinal columns or windpipes? Wild dogs tearing bellies open so guts spill onto the ground, the panicked victim tripping up over them? Have you seen monkeys chasing other monkeys, rip them apart and eat them? The screams? Have you seen sharks rip into seals or how crocodiles kill their food (animal and human)?

I think we humans generally kill animals far more humanely than we do other humans, or animals kill other animals.

I am not saying that the manner in which we kill our food on an industrial scale could not be improved, but if you want to see how the majority of animals take that final step toward human consumption, then see the photos I took:

http://hippo-on-the-lawn.blogspot.com/2012/01/not-for-faint-hearted.html

When my time comes, I hope it is within the sights of a marksman. Preferably a jealous husband.

Anonymous said...

"What I think is likely though, is that every small scale abattoir would kill animals in a way that would look more humane, even if using the same methods used in larger scale."

Why would you think that? If the method of slaughter was exactly the same only the numbers would be different.

Is 200 more humane than 2000?

The only thing that works to the advantage of the smaller scale operation is they have the potential to be closer to the producers. Thereby reducing the time and stress involved with transporting beasts to large scale operations that are often 100 miles away.

ScotchDave said...

You are showing your ignorance anon.

Kosher slaughter is called shechita, and is carried out by a shochet. Kosher means permissible, treif means forbidden.

There are many rules about internal blemishes, some make the whole animal treif and there are some parts of some animals that are treif, for example hamstrings.

After the animal is killed it is opened up to check for blemishes, if the animal has such a blemish which makes it treif, but is still suitable for human consumption, it is sold to a non kosher butcher. The hindquarters are also almost always removed and sold to a non kosher butcher as removing the hamstrings is not normally cost effective and is also not universally accepted as kosher. Finally there are some parts that are treif, but lots of people eat, these are also normally sold to non kosher butchers.

In regards to shechita itself, there are strict laws governing the shape and size of the knife and its sharpness as well as how the meat is prepared after slaughter.

I have a few friends who are shochtim (plural form of shochet) and I have examined a few of their knives, the edges are incredibly thin and incredibly sharp. To give a quantifiable comparison, there is a gentleman called Longstrider in England who is renowned for sharpening knives to incredible levels, there are videos of him cutting through free standing cigarette papers in one swipe etc. The knives I have looked at are sharper, though this has a lot to do with edge geometry as opposed to the skill of the sharpener.

Finally, to become a shochet takes 3 years of full time study a lot of which is supervised practice. These are highly dedicated and skilled men who are dedicated to the welfare of the animals in their care.

In short, there is no "dumping" of non kosher animal parts, it's just not always financially viable to harvest some of them and others are simply not kosher, so the slaughter house recoups the losses it can and endeavours to avoid wasting good food.

Dave

sam_acw said...

Thank you for posting the link to the videos,very informative and not at all what I'd thought.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Hippo

I always find it amusing that so many meat eating anti hunters seem to forget the 'torn limb from limb while alive, part of the fluffy bunny's life and death.

I guess we kill the way[s] we kill - close up with farmed animals or at a distance with the hunted - as we cant for the most part chase them down or indeed eviscerate them with out nails and teeth. As ever we've sort to add a layer of Mumbo-Jumbo to the rules structures for food hygiene.
SBW


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Anon

No the only thing, cuts from more than one animal processed together is bad practice all day long. Keeping it small's main advantage to us is keeping it safe, the standards of animal welfare are a welcome secondary benefit

SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Scotch Dave

Fascinating: another area of my ignorance exposed too.
That's this evenings reading taken care of. Thanks
SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

sam_acw

Glad you liked it mate, i was surprised how little I knew and how much of that was misinformation

SBW

Federico said...

Anonymous

"Why would you think that? If the method of slaughter was exactly the same only the numbers would be different."

damn right it would make a difference, because while the method would be the same,the execution would most likely not. For instance, if I gave you a rifle and told you 'take your time to drop the deer on the lawn', chances are you'd have a clean kill. If I told you 'shoot as soon as the animal is in your sights', the chances of a clean kill would drop.

People working in an industrial abattoir have to work much faster than small scale operations, and this might result in lower welfare standards. In addition, handling many more animals makes it logistically more difficult to meet these welfare standards.

The idea that the conditions the slaughterer is under do not affect the welfare of the animal is wrong. Additionally, improving working and animal handling conditions in industrial abattoirs will make a huge positive change towards humane slaughter.

Phillip said...

Good stuff here!

A while back, as I had some Muslim friends coming for dinner, I wanted to see if there was a way I could hunt game that would provide a halal meal. Unfortunately, the fact that I'm not Muslim pretty much put an end to that idea. But beyond that, there are some really interesting rules regarding hunted game that determine if the meat is halal or haraam. Good reading, for your spare time.

Other than that, I can't argue with any method of slaughter that requires the intimacy of a sticking knife or other similar tool... especially when compared to the large-scale, industrial operations.

Of course, certain folks will always complain when living animals are killed for human use, and, as someone else mentioned, the demonization of Muslims in the current political environment doesn't help the cause of reason.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Federico

your point is well made
SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Phillip

Thanks man,

Hope the season's good start has been followed by further success'
SBW

Anonymous said...

Scotch Dave
"You are showing your ignorance anon.

Kosher slaughter is called shechita, and is carried out by a shochet. Kosher means permissible, treif means forbidden."

I'm full aware of the terminology thanks. However 99% of the general public aren't and refer to it as Kosher slaughter.I therefore went with the commomnally accepted terminology.

"In short, there is no "dumping" of non kosher animal parts, it's just not always financially viable to harvest some of them and others are simply not kosher, so the slaughter house recoups the losses it can and endeavours to avoid wasting good food."

Of course there is dumping of kosher slaughtered carcases into the non kosher food chain. Your above comments confirm just that. The jews won't take the hind quarters, nor any carcase that doesn't pass their inspection criteria. However if it passes the FSA inspection criteria it gets dumped into the non kosher market. End of.

Like all appreticeships we all know the first 18 months are spent making the tea.3 years or 3 months what does it matter. Persoanlly I am rather ambigious towards both Hala and Kosher slaughter.They both use the same basic mechanics to get the job done. However critisium is usually directed at Hala slaughter for a multitude of reasons mostly due to peoples animosity towards the Islamic culture..

Anonymous said...

"No the only thing, cuts from more than one animal processed together is bad practice all day long. Keeping it small's main advantage to us is keeping it safe, the standards of animal welfare are a welcome secondary benefit"

Production line slaughter processes are no more risky than the butchering the pig in the back shed carry on that our grandparents practised.

Anonymous said...

"damn right it would make a difference, because while the method would be the same,the execution would most likely not"
Aren't you just contradicting yourself?
If the method is same therefore so shall be the execution.

"People working in an industrial abattoir have to work much faster than small scale operations, and this might result in lower welfare standards. In addition, handling many more animals makes it logistically more difficult to meet these welfare standards."

Might result.....? So you base your argument on pure conjecture. You base your premise that greater volume makes it more difficult to achieve some conjectured welfare standard.On what precisely?

Anonymous said...

"For instance, if I gave you a rifle and told you 'take your time to drop the deer on the lawn', chances are you'd have a clean kill. If I told you 'shoot as soon as the animal is in your sights', the chances of a clean kill would drop."

I could also decide to wear a blindfold, stand on my left leg whilst my right foot waved around in circles and I hummed the battle hymen of the republic.
However for the case at hand we're talking about animal slaughter in the controlled environment of an abattoir.

Anonymous said...

Federico

your point is well made
SBW

You think....really?

Oh well... Some do it, some see it some read about it.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Anno

Thanks for sticking with this one, its been interesting.

"Production line slaughter processes are no more risky than the butchering the pig in the back shed carry on that our grandparents practised."

Well they 'could' be no more dangerous - but I remain unconvinced.

"critisium is usually directed at Hala slaughter for a multitude of reasons mostly due to peoples animosity towards the Islamic culture."

True


"If the method is same therefore so shall be the execution"

Really?

"Oh well... Some do it, some see it some read about it."

I look forward to reading your blog

SBW

Federico said...

Anon:

"Might result.....? So you base your argument on pure conjecture. You base your premise that greater volume makes it more difficult to achieve some conjectured welfare standard.On what precisely?"

No conjecture on my part. I have been in abattoirs (all industrial), and I do know people who worked as industrial slaughterers. They do care about killing as humanely as possible, but they are under time pressure, which means less time to kill, and they have to manage many more animals.

If you have problems getting this, having less time to kill means that every so often the kill is not clean. As much as people might not like this, it is unavoidable -- as some people argue that, unless 100% of the kills are clean the whole idea of industrial abattoirs is untenable.

In addition, and you seem to have issues figuring this out as well, if you are dealing with a handful of animals and you have unlimited time to move and restrain them you will not have to use stuff such as cattle prods, which are present in industrial settings -- another issue in 'humane slaughter'.

The reason why I said "might' is because I do not want to accuse people who work in abattoirs of not caring for welfare standards. The issue is not the technique used for the kill, it is the pressure people are under when they kill. In industrial settings people do NOT have the choice to take all the time necessary to calm the animals down, they cannot take as much time as they would like to do the kill -- this results, no matter how much care is taken by the slaughterers, in a higher percentage of animals not killed cleanly, compared to small scale enterprises, because in small enterprises people can take the time to calm the animals down and can take the time they feel they need, no matter how long, to do a clean kill.

That's why I mentioned Temple Grandin. She understands that, no matter how careful people are, industrial abattoirs are often designed in a way that increases the stress of the animals and decreases the welfare. That's why her work designing abattoirs that are less stressful for animals, and procedures that are more conducive to humane slaughter is a massive step in the direction of greater animal welfare. If you bother to look up what non meat eaters say about industrial abattoirs you will find plenty of evidence that poor plant design, pressure on workforce and poor management make for low welfare standards.

To make it clear: would you rather have a operation in a hospital or in a army tent? would you prefer the operation to be scheduled or would you prefer to wait for an emergency? Same techniques, different pressures, well documented different outcomes in survival, possible post hop problems etc. The setting matters, like or not.

(sorry for the long post SWB)

Anonymous said...

SBW

"Thanks for sticking with this one, its been interesting."
I'd give it an 7 for entertainment.


""If the method is same therefore so shall be the execution"

Really?"

Yep. whacking it with a big stick is just whacking it with a big stick. All that changes is where you whack it and how big the stick is. Cuts its neck with a knife.....blah blah

""Oh well... Some do it, some see it some read about it."

I look forward to reading your blog"

I have thought about starting one, but somehow never get around to pushing the buttons. Maybe one day.....

Anonymous said...

Fred

"The reason why I said "might' is because I do not want to accuse people who work in abattoirs of not caring for welfare standards. The issue is not the technique used for the kill, it is the pressure people are under when they kill. In industrial settings people do NOT have the choice to take all the time necessary to calm the animals down, they cannot take as much time as they would like to do the kill -- this results, no matter how much care is taken by the slaughterers, in a higher percentage of animals not killed cleanly, compared to small scale enterprises, because in small enterprises people can take the time to calm the animals down and can take the time they feel they need, no matter how long, to do a clean kill."

Mistakes happen regardless of the situation, location,circumstance in whch the act takes place. To err is human is it not. Time pressure is there in what ever environment you happen tp find yourself. Time=profit, profit=sustainability, sustainability=longevity of employment. etc etc. We would all like to think that small is all warm and cosy, the reality is they are all under considerable commercial pressure to get the job done.

"That's why I mentioned Temple Grandin. She understands that, no matter how careful people are, industrial abattoirs are often designed in a way that increases the stress of the animals and decreases the welfare."

hanks I'm aware of Grandins life long work in regards to reducing beasts stress level and to increase thru put. She has made great improvement to the live animals journey through the preliminary slaughter process.

I think you are confusing a reduction of visible demonstrations of stress and increased welfare. Grandins principle concern was improvements in operational efficiency by allowing a beast natural behaviours to assist in the efficiency of the primary handling process.


"To make it clear: would you rather have a operation in a hospital or in a army tent? would you prefer the operation to be scheduled or would you prefer to wait for an emergency? Same techniques, different pressures, well documented different outcomes in survival, possible post hop problems etc. The setting matters, like or not."

Your analogy is again slightly askew.But I'll play along. Subject to a successful out come I wouldn't care where the operation was carried out. Elective surgery is always less risky than emergency surgery. Due entirely to the circumstances. Post operative care has no baring upon this discussion. Dead is dead after all.

To turn you example on its head. Would you choose to wait until you could reach a BUPA hospital to have grenade fragments removed from your groin, upper torso and head, close the holes in your lungs and abdomen or would you elect to have the surgeon with the FST at the CSH do the job. Your choice, one gives you a 90% chance of survival the other gives you a 10% chance. I think the stress levels would be equal regardless of choice.


Chad Love said...

Damn interesting topic and comments, SBW...

Federico said...

Anonymous:

"Mistakes happen regardless of the situation, location,circumstance in whch the act takes place. To err is human is it not. Time pressure is there in what ever environment you happen tp find yourself. Time=profit, profit=sustainability, sustainability=longevity of employment. etc etc. We would all like to think that small is all warm and cosy, the reality is they are all under considerable commercial pressure to get the job done."

to make it clear:

1) the question seems to be, is the prevalence of errors in killing animals (which would be a failure to kill humanely) higher in industrial abattoirs versus small scale abattoirs? in particular, what is the error rate for the chaps in the video? in the most simple terms, would halal slaughter decrease the error rate in industrial settings?

2) do industrial abattoirs have other issues of welfare outside humane slaughter, not encountered by small abattoirs (cattle prods, etc)?

3) you, and nobody else here has any way of saying whether the chaps in the video (or in any other small abattoir) are under economic strain, or not, whatever the reason, and thus cannot say whether the practice they show in the video (which is damn far from industrial slaughter in terms of animals killed per unit of time) is a standard procedure or not.

So, back to my original comment: apples and oranges. What these guys do is irrelevant to the issue: is practice X more or less humane in the setting of industrial abattoirs, because they are NOT in that setting. SWB explicitly raised the issue of industrial animal farming and slaughtering in case people forgot.

My comment about surgical operations has been misunderstood, though I am to blame for the analogy. The issue in my example is not how the patient would feel, is how much stress, and how greater the chance of error *for the surgeon*. My bad.

Finally, a couple more pointer about the vid: what about restraining and killing animals bigger than goats and sheep? are they calmed down as effectively as goats? How does that gig play out? or are they simply not slaughtered there?

Additionally, the slaughtering room has a metal grill flooring (for practical reasons I presume). Because animals do not willing walk over grills (cattle grids anyone?), forcing an animal to walk in a roo with a grill for pavement might be seen as drop in welfare standards.

Finally, because this is a hunting blog, there are many more relevant things to say about kosher and halal slaughter -- though I will not hog more space unless SBW is happy for me to go on.

Anonymous said...

Q1)the question seems to be, is the prevalence of errors in killing animals (which would be a failure to kill humanely) higher in industrial abattoirs versus small scale abattoirs? in particular, what is the error rate for the chaps in the video? in the most simple terms, would halal slaughter decrease the error rate in industrial settings?
A1)I'm sure the FSA has figures relating to the killing efficiency of industrial slaughter operations here in the UK. What that efficiency rate is elsewhere in the world your guess is as good as anyone's. I see no relevance in the rest of the question.

Q2)do industrial abattoirs have other issues of welfare outside humane slaughter, not encountered by small abattoirs (cattle prods, etc)?
A2)Here in the UK no.What goes on in the rest of the world is a matter of conjecture.

Q3) you, and nobody else here has any way of saying whether the chaps in the video (or in any other small abattoir) are under economic strain, or not, whatever the reason, and thus cannot say whether the practice they show in the video (which is damn far from industrial slaughter in terms of animals killed per unit of time) is a standard procedure or not.
A3) Reality dictates that economics plays a significant part in any business. IIRC they operate as a commercial slaughtering operation. Quid pro quo commercial economic pressure.

"So, back to my original comment: apples and oranges. What these guys do is irrelevant to the issue: is practice X more or less humane in the setting of industrial abattoirs, because they are NOT in that setting. SWB explicitly raised the issue of industrial animal farming and slaughtering in case people forgot."
Your point being??

"Finally, a couple more pointer about the vid: what about restraining and killing animals bigger than goats and sheep? are they calmed down as effectively as goats? How does that gig play out? or are they simply not slaughtered there?"
I doubt they would get away with a similar circus trick with larger sized anaimals

"Additionally, the slaughtering room has a metal grill flooring (for practical reasons I presume). Because animals do not willing walk over grills (cattle grids anyone?), forcing an animal to walk in a roo with a grill for pavement might be seen as drop in welfare standards."

Grills are not like cattle grids. End of.

"Finally, because this is a hunting blog, there are many more relevant things to say about kosher and halal slaughter -- though I will not hog more space unless SBW is happy for me to go on."

Personally I don't have a problem with Halal or Kosher slaughter in the commercial context. I know there are many that do. I do have a problem with the routine commercial dumping of Kosher/Halal slaughtered product into the non kosher/halal market without adequate labelling. I believe that the consumer should be informed. I believe that all retailers and food providers should be able to provide a provenance for the products they sell.

ScotchDave said...

Anon,

So, what would you prefer us to do with the parts that can't be used but are still perfectly edible? Would it be more morally acceptable to you if we were to throw them in the rubbish bin?

The fact is, the hindquarters and non kosher organs have to go somewhere, so why not sell them to people who will use them?

Dave

ScotchDave said...

Err, I posted a comment, but I didn't get the usual "your comment is awaiting moderation message", so I'll repost.

Anon,

What would you prefer us to do with the hindquarters of the animals, and the organs we can't eat. Would it be more morally acceptable to you for us to put them in the rubbish bin?

The fact is, there are leftovers we can't eat, so why not sell them to someone who can make use of them?

Dave

Federico said...

Anon, given these premises (that is, what SBW posted in the first place):

"The way for most food animals in the western world is, er, slightly different. It's entirely acceptable to have the animal severely traumatised, then stunned, before being skinned alive-ish. There is little time for compassion in industrialised animal husbandry. There is another method, one that people have heard of, disapprove of, yet seem to know little about. The intersection between wilful ignorance and distain has proved to be an interesting hunting ground in the past, so I thought I'd shine a flashlight into the chasm of my own ignorance and learn a little more about how other cultures relate to their food. Starting with Islam."

I pointed out that what was shown in the videos going with the post is not necessarily relevant with the post, because SBW was comparing *industrial abattoir practices* with the hala slaughter practiced by a small scale vanture. My point being, the proper comparison would be between an industrial abattoir that practices killing through captive bolt vs one that uses halal methods. Only then we could make a fair assessment of the relative level of animal welfare in either case.

I could reply point by point to your latest, but to be fair I get the feeling you don't seem to that keen discussing these issues (as opposed to disagreen with me), so I will thank SBW for the space he gave me and leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Scotch Dave
Its good to see you have at last laid your cards on the table and admitted to being Jewish.

"What would you prefer us to do with the hindquarters of the animals, and the organs we can't eat. Would it be more morally acceptable to you for us to put them in the rubbish bin?

The fact is, there are leftovers we can't eat, so why not sell them to someone who can make use of them?"

If you read the last paragraph of my last comment. You'll see what I suggest.

That you choose to dump the non allowed parts of a kosher slaughtered carcase into the non kosher market without adequate labelling is the main "bone " of contention with the non kosher consumer.

Jews and Muslims choose to slaughter in a certain manner. Jews then select elements of the carcase thru choice. Should non kosher and Halal consumers not be offered the same consideration. Thru being made aware of the slaughter process by which the animal died thru adequate labelling?

Anonymous said...

Fredico

I suppose it all boils down to whether you agree with SBW following premise

"The way for most food animals in the western world is, er, slightly different. It's entirely acceptable to have the animal severely traumatised, then stunned, before being skinned alive-ish. There is little time for compassion in industrialised animal husbandry."
I don't. I don't believe that an animal is "severely traumatised" or that they are "skinned alive-ish" whatever "alive-ish" is.


"My point being, the proper comparison would be between an industrial abattoir that practices killing through captive bolt vs one that uses halal methods. Only then we could make a fair assessment of the relative level of animal welfare in either case."

In the UK I don't believe there are any industrial scale slaughter establishment that are exclusively Halal or Kosher. They slaughter using all of the allowed methods subject to demand. The environment and the initial live handling processes are the same regardless. Only the mumbo jumbo changes.

"I could reply point by point to your latest, but to be fair I get the feeling you don't seem to that keen discussing these issues (as opposed to disagreen with me), so I will thank SBW for the space he gave me and leave it at that."

Your feelings are incorrect.I'm very happy discussing these issues. It just happens that I disagree with you. That life, C'est la guerre.

ScotchDave said...

Hi Anon,

Does it matter what religion I am? Do you want a yellow star on my profile, so that you know who you are dealing with next time? Why not just make a special area of the internet for us?

Also, why am I somehow responsible for the practices of the kosher industry, if it were up to me, they would take the time to remove the hamstrings and sciatic nerves. We're selling some of the best cuts of meat, which I'd love to get more of.

Regarding the leftover animal parts, I don't know who exactly the parts are sold to. If you ask the companies they might be able to help. Your issue is with the people buying the hindquarters and relabeling, not the suppliers, you should talk to them and demand labeling. Why shouldn't people know that the meat they are eating is from the most ethical source?

It's like asking a farmer who grows GM crops, to ensure that they are labelled by the end user, unfeasible.

Dave

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Gentlemen

I will be responding to several of the points raised in the last few comments shortly, annoyingly work is preventing me from giving adequate time to blogging at the moment.

Anon - I wasn't impressed with your assertion that Dave had 'admitted to being Jewish' as frankly the content of Daves DNA has knack all to do with the content of Daves head.

For the record I may share some DNA with Dave, but as this possibility was only put to me when I was already 43 I cant say its been a factor in my upbringing and frankly I've got better uses for the $300 it would take to have a DNA profile to confirm my great grandmother's genetic heritage. Also as my Bro pointed out i'd only use such a confirmation to start arguments so perhaps the money would be betteer put towards a new bow hunting rig.

play nice
SBW

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave

"Does it matter what religion I am? Do you want a yellow star on my profile, so that you know who you are dealing with next time? Why not just make a special area of the internet for us?"
Yes it does matter. You are hardly likely to be impartial or unbiased.The yellow star is unimportant. Having had some long involvment with the jewish community I'm pretty sure there are a good number of your faith that would like a special area of the internet all to themselves.

"Also, why am I somehow responsible for the practices of the kosher industry, if it were up to me, they would take the time to remove the hamstrings and sciatic nerves. We're selling some of the best cuts of meat, which I'd love to get more of."

I am not saying you are responsible, I'm saying you do so thru choice. Two entirely different things

"Why shouldn't people know that the meat they are eating is from the most ethical source?"

People should know the provieance of their meat. Hence the need for legislation requiring adequate labelling through out the whole supply chain. Starting with the abattoirs.

"It's like asking a farmer who grows GM crops, to ensure that they are labelled by the end user, unfeasible."

Unfeasible? Not really. It already happens.



Anonymous said...

SBW

"Anon - I wasn't impressed with your assertion that Dave had 'admitted to being Jewish' as frankly the content of Daves DNA has knack all to do with the content of Daves head."

Whether we like the fact or not religious ethnicity and thereby religious life style choices, do have an impact, influence, determination upon what is in someone's head. Its call indoctrination.Its an inalienable fact of life. Does it bother me that Dave is Jewish? Not in the slightest. I like chicken soup.

I'm sure great granny would be proud that you are embracing your ethnicity at long last.

Hippo said...

Blimey, SBW, don't raise this issue in your local pub!

Perhaps it is because I live in Africa, because I hunt or because I have taken home reared animals to slaughter that I am a little bemused by the emotion evident in some of these comments.

Humans are omnivores (God endowed us with canines and incisors as well as molars)and we have to accept that in order to survive, we need to kill.

Naturally, this should be done as quickly as possible.

Here in Africa, we kill goats and sheep by slicing their throats. Pigs we stick through the jugular and let them bleed out. We kill cattle by stabbing them through the spine neck high. This, skillfully done, drops them to the ground and they do not see it coming. None of these methods is instant especially if the man doing the slaughtering is under pressure and gets sloppy.

There used to be a time in UK when local butchers could undertake small scale slaughtering. EU regulations saw the end of that resulting in the necessity to transport animals for slaughter over longer distances to be 'processed' on an industrial scale.

I agree with any initiative that provides for the humane treatment and slaughtering of animals but I would rather have seen, since such extra regulation was deemed necessary, additional training courses offered to local butchers wishing to operate abattoirs so they could be qualified. Local vets would have provided the infrastructure required to monitor compliance. After all, vets do care about animal welfare and would have worked out far cheaper than yet another anonymous government department.

If for whatever reason, individuals or groups are not willing to use all of the animal they slaughter then I see no reason why, unless the joints we are talking about have in some way been altered to the extent they can no longer be referred to as meat, that meat cannot be passed on to those for whom the consumption of those portions of the animal raises no objection. To do otherwise would not only be disrespectful to the dead animal, it would be a criminal waste of a resource.

As to labeling, I am yet to be convinced that any one of the established and regulated mechanisms of slaughter stand out as evidently more humane than the rest. I do not see, therefore, any reason to distinguish between them by labeling. We already suffer enough in this world through geo-political and religious xenophobia so why add to it, especially for such diaphanous motives? Labels to distinguish where and how animals were slaughtered can only emphasize differences rather than the communality of us all being meat eaters. Also, I think we have suffered enough under the chain mail fist of central government regulation, most if it now coming from an unelected body in Europe.
I am reminded of the parable of the candle maker who convinced the king to ban all windows so that candles had to be burned during the day as well as at night. A regulation affecting every citizen but benefitting only a few.

I am also reminded of a comment my superior officer made on my annual confidential report nearly thirty years ago. He stated that ‘Captain Gowans is sometimes intolerant of those less able than himself’. At first sight this appears a compliment of sorts. What he really meant, but could not commit to paper, was that I was in danger of appearing an arrogant, intolerant little shit.

I think what I am trying to say, Mr Anonymous, is that if you are THAT concerned about where YOUR meat comes from. Shoot it yourself.


Hippo said...

"I'm sure great granny would be proud that you are embracing your ethnicity at long last."

Please. We are guests on SBW's blog.

ScotchDave said...

"Yes it does matter. You are hardly likely to be impartial or unbiased.The yellow star is unimportant. Having had some long involvment with the jewish community I'm pretty sure there are a good number of your faith that would like a special area of the internet all to themselves."

You're right, it affects what I know, I know more about Jewish religious law and practices than almost any non-Jew in the world. This is because I am an orthodox Jew. It's your "aha!" tone that I take offense to, as if it somehow invalidates my knowledge or perspective.

"Unfeasible? Not really. It already happens."

No it doesn't, the farmer has no responsibility, the end user, for example hellmans mayonaise, carries responsibility.

Hippo said...

@ Scotchdave:

Aha! Now I know why I was so impressed with the evident knowledge of the subject you were kind enough to share with us!

I'll take all the bits you don't want. Just label them up with my address...

Unless I am being really dim, it appears you don't have a blog (not one I can find anyway). Pity, I bet I wouldn't be the only one who would find it interesting.

SBW, I think you have smashed your personal record for comments! I am going to kill my goatling, by the way. Now that Gabby is off the milk and onto roughage, she has just scoffed all my seedlings, nurtured from expensively imported seed, so death is the only option. I might even get a pair of kid gloves out of her. Marcia I suspect, having seen my murderous countenance this morning, will give her to a farmer up the road.

Anonymous said...

SDave

"You're right, it affects what I know, I know more about Jewish religious law and practices than almost any non-Jew in the world."
Good for you!
"It's your "aha!" tone that I take offense to, as if it somehow invalidates my knowledge or perspective."
If you feel so undermined and invalidated by a few simple truths. Might I suggest you re-evaluate your choices.

""Unfeasible? Not really. It already happens."
No it doesn't, the farmer has no responsibility, the end user, for example hellmans mayonaise, carries responsibility."

Like I said it already happens. Its just in this instance the responsibility lies with the processor. That is the way the requirement is structured. Currently there is no such requirement placed upon the meat product food chain in regards to methods of slaughter. Hence the abattoirs dumping of product into the non secular markets.

Hippo said...

@ Anonymous

"Thanks for sticking with this one, its been interesting."
I'd give it an 7 for entertainment.

A seven, not an seven. Dickhead.

Please SBW, this is no longer an intellectual discourse. The thread has been hi-jacked by some prick hiding behind his anonymity. Scotchdave has been more than reasonable, very informative, very polite and yet you are allowing him to be abused by someone of an intellect so mean he cannot even construct a rational argument without sniping at a man’s faith.

Like you, I believe in the open, free speech of blogging but when it comes to approving comments like this your finger really should stray to the top right hand corner of your keyboard to the key marked ‘Delete’ and then hit it.

ScotchDave said...

Anon,

I'm done feeding the troll.

Hippo,

No blog yet, I have a title picked out: An Angry Scotsman in America, but a lack of time and/or motivation as I'm not very interested in writing.

Enjoy the goatling!

Dave

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Hippo \ Scotch Dave

Chaps I have to reluctantly agree, while I believe in freedom of speech and its wonderful power to expose stupidity, I also abhor ungentlemanly behaviour and suspect we are at the crossroads.

I wanted to have a 'special part of the internet' just for, well me really, so i started this blog. There are a couple of points in this comments thread that I'll be responding to either in the the comments or in future posts; however as a new job starts today, and I have some deer stalking to tell you about before next weekends much anticipated adventure, so no promises as to when it'll be.

SBW

Hippo said...

Scotchdave,

so let me get this correct. You are an angry orthodox scottish jew living in the States?

Man you've got to find the time and inclination to do a blog!

Anonymous said...

Hippo & S Dave

You know when you've won the debate when the name calling starts. So I'd just like to say Thanks guys for confirming my victory. Some much for intellectual discourse, aye!

If you find my unwillingness to accept religious choice as an excuse for an individuals or a section of society behaviour. That is your prerogative. Just as it is for those that accept it.

If you care to point out where I have been as SBW calls it "ungentlemanly" I'll happily apologise and offer a simpler explanation. My bet is you'll not find a single example. Subject to you having a less restricted perspective of course.....

Until then I guess this is the last word on the subject between us. Ciao

p.s. I still like chicken soup..........





ScotchDave said...

Hi Hippo,

It took me a few days tofind time to reply to a comment. No way that I have time for a blog, though thanks for the vote of confidence.

SBW, thanks for the space on your blog, I look forward to more articles being posted.

Dave

Hippo said...

Scotchdave, go well...

Ali Williams said...

To respond to what someone said earlier about Halal being not possible on an industrial scale- I currently live in the Middle East and everything has to be Halal. Every meat sold to every Muslim in UAE and Oman (where I live) has to be halal. And there are millions of people living here. You can't find non-halal meat anywhere but specialty supermarkets that sell pork to Westerners. This meat that is halal is industrial meat. I wonder what the industrial Halal slaughter practice looks like.

كريم الكراني said...

My good brother ..In fact I am a Muslim and I am proud that, and I own forum called the Association of hunting and shooting in Egypt :
www.egypthunter.com
And I will explain the image and the target of slaughter is cut artery in the neck is to ensure that filter blood and get rid of it, so that is the best in terms of scientific and during cooking, andthe man saying words translated in English as "name of God, God is great" and is provided to the slaughter sir according to Islamic law.
That's all there is to it.