How we can stop the slaughter of cows


Slaughter of pregnant cows

In Germany, over a million dairy cows are slaughtered every year. According to estimates, it can be assumed that ten percent of the animals are pregnant. The causes are varied: on the one hand, pregnancies are overlooked or the animal is slaughtered for purely economic reasons.

So far, this has represented a significant animal welfare problem, because there were no federal or EU-wide laws for the handling of pregnant animals at slaughter, neither for the protection of the mother animal nor for the fetus. Legal consequences or specific instructions for the veterinarian or the slaughterhouse staff on site are relatively vague.

On September 1, 2017, however, the Animal Products Trade Prohibition Act was changed and now an animal that is in the last third of gestation may no longer be given for slaughter. Sheep and goats are excluded from this. In addition, all animals can still be slaughtered in the last third of pregnancy according to veterinary instructions or in the context of an animal disease.

Basically, the change in the law is a good step in the right direction, but it will allow too many exceptions. If killing is necessary for animal welfare reasons during pregnancy, a highly pregnant animal should always be euthanized in accordance with animal welfare standards in order to save mother and unborn child pain, suffering and harm.

Claims for slaughter

Strict rules on slaughtering must provide the framework for slaughtering animals as gently as possible. Compliance with the regulations must be ensured, including through appropriate and regular training of the staff. Each individual animal should be considered according to its individual condition. In addition, improved and gentler methods must be developed with which the animals can be anesthetized quickly, safely and painlessly.

There are currently various scientific studies on the stunning of slaughter pigs with helium and the first studies show that the animals compared CO2 suffer less stress and show no aversive reactions. A continuation of the current stunning methods in the presence of a practical and animal welfare-compliant stunning is to be rejected from the point of view of animal welfare.

Pregnant animals should be checked for pregnancy before slaughter. The extremely low prices of animal products often form the basis for the fact that an individual animal is continuously losing value and that slaughtering is preferred to veterinary treatment for purely economic reasons. According to the German Animal Welfare Act, however, this measure is not a reasonable reason for the slaughter of an animal and should be prohibited by law. This requires an ethical discussion based on social acceptance and the development of a binding, EU-wide legal basis that defines how pregnant animals should be handled during transport and slaughter.