New poultry slaughter rules have stunned the British Veterinary Association. The BVA has grave concerns on the new welfare rules for killing poultry in England.
CHICKEN SLAUGHTER METHODS: New poultry slaughtering methods got introduced in November 2015.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) brought them in.
Defra is a government ministerial department. They are responsible for safeguarding the natural environment. They also support the food and farming industries.
Their role also includes helping to sustain a thriving rural economy around the United Kingdom.
Most have welcomed the new provisions in the rules to improve bird welfare at slaughter.
The introduction is a requirement for large slaughterhouses. They must have an Animal Welfare Officer. Displaying Certificates of Competence is another recognized improvement.
Of most concern and apprehension to the BVA is the welfare of the birds during the time of killing. Defra decided not to include stunning parameters in the new legislation.
It relates to animals slaughtered 'in accordance with religious rites'. That has proven to be a worrying issue for some welfare organizations.
The UK uses the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing as the current regulatory methods.
WATOK gets used for stunning poultry or domesticated fowl raised for meat or eggs. That includes animals such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, or geese.
The British Veterinary Association made further suggestions. They said the implemented poultry slaughter regulations may cause 'avoidable animal suffering'.
It may immobilize some birds rather than completely stun them. This is more likely if the parameters in electrical waterbath stunning are not set 'correctly'.
This would mean that a percentage of poultry would still be conscious at the time of slaughter.
They also admitted they had called for European legislation before. The BVA wanted an implementation in full through WATOK.
They have removed the requirement for parameters in electrical waterbath stunning. That removes the legal guarantee for effective stunning before the time of death.
"In the last year we have seen headlines about the inhumane treatment of animals at slaughter. The new WATOK regulations are strong in many areas. But, we have concerns about the omission of specific parameters for electrical waterbath stunning. It leaves some poultry vulnerable to ineffective stunning.
We have written to Defra outlining our concerns. This gap undermines the science that the regulations got built upon. It is difficult to see how effective stunning gets assured for all poultry. The parameters are not set when poultry gets killed following religious rites."
He also commented on Slaughtermen, Official Veterinarians, and Animal Welfare Officers in abattoirs. They would be unable to differentiate between birds which have been 'effectively' stunned and those which are electro-immobilized.
This uncertainty compromises the animal welfare standards. The new legislation got brought in to protect this - he said.
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New Poultry Slaughter Regulations Stun BVA in the United Kingdom