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Slaughter without stunning “a major animal welfare issue”

Crossbench peer and veterinarian Lord Trees has been strongly campaigning on the moral debate as to whether the Government should ban the slaughter of animals that are not pre-stunned, without exception on religious grounds.

At a debate at the House of Lords, Lord Trees called slaughter without stunning “a major, if not the major animal welfare issue in the United Kingdom today” and commented that “consumers can justifiably expect to be informed if the normal legally required form of humane slaughter has not been used”.

He asked the Muslim and Jewish communities “to reflect and consider whether ancient practices, for which there were good reasons many hundreds of years ago, are necessary today. There are non-lethal, non-invasive methods of stunning.”

Lords Trees drew attention to the BVA’s policy on stunning and Baroness Hodgson mentioned the BVA’s position outlined in Bill Reilly’s Vet Record article, which can be read here.

Lord Trees has said that he is “appealing to the religious communities concerned to consider whether their historic practices are now necessary. There are immediately available technical solutions via the introduction of stunning which, in the words of the Humane Slaughter Association, “precludes the possibility of suffering”.”

However Conservative peer Professor, Lord Sheikh, believes that the present practice should be continued. He says: “I understand the animal welfare concerns surrounding religious slaughter but honestly believe that much of these are based on misunderstanding.

“Islam forbids the mistreatment of animals; there are numerous references in our religion, reinforced by actually prescribing the method of slaughter.

“Contrary to belief in some circles, animals are not cut and left to slowly bleed to death. To do so would be cruel and wrong.

The Muslim method of slaughter, known as zabiha, ensures an extremely quick and near-painless death.

“In contrast, when stunning is used during more conventional, mechanical methods of slaughter, the animal may be paralysed and unable to display signs of pain. In addition there are instances of mis-stunning which itself causes severe pain and distress.

“In any event, I believe we must pay greater attention to pre-slaughter handling and to the wider welfare of animals throughout their lives, including the conditions in which they are bred, housed and transported.

I therefore feel that the present practice should be continued.”


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