Development of a novel welfare assessment protocol for use in cattle slaughterhouses

Ellie Wigham, Andrew Butterworth, Stephen Wotton

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Posterpeer-review


Measuring animal welfare at the time of slaughter is inherently difficult. Fundamental factors such as effects of transportation, reactions to novel environments and underlying commercial pressures pose significant challenges when establishing a valid, reliable and feasible welfare assessment protocol. However the need for such a protocol is paramount – to allow effective welfare audits, to provide feedback to abattoirs and to enable the effects of welfare improvement measures, such as personnel training, to be quantified.

As part of the preliminary stages of a larger study, a review of the literature regarding welfare assessment at slaughter was carried out. Protocols for welfare assessments for both commercial and experimental purposes were included, and this evaluation, when combined with a number of scoping visits to UK and USA slaughterhouses, was used to develop a protocol for assessing the welfare of cattle at the time of slaughter.

In this presentation the assessment measures included in this protocol are outlined and the feasibility of its use in large commercial slaughterhouses is summarised based on trial welfare assessments carried out in UK slaughterhouses in the summer of 2017.

It is planned that the assessment system developed will subsequently be used to assess and measure lairage and slaughter animal welfare outcomes in a number of slaughter plants in the UK, and USA. The protocol will be applied before, and after, abattoir staff have received specific ‘animal welfare’ training to assess whether there are measurable effects on welfare outcomes after targeted training.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2017
EventThe 11th International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting : Animal Welfare Section - Samorin, Slovakia
Duration: 14 Sep 201716 Sep 2017


ConferenceThe 11th International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting

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