A tour of the slaughterhouse

The first thing that hit us hard when we entered was the noise (mostly mechanical) and the disgusting stench. First, we were shown how cows are killed. They emerged one after the other from the stalls and climbed up the passage to a metal platform with high partitions. A man with an electric gun leaned over the fence and shot the animal between the eyes. This stunned him, and the animal fell to the ground.

Then the walls of the corral were raised, and the cow rolled out, turning over on its side. She seemed petrified, as if every muscle in her body was frozen in tension. The same man grabbed the cow’s knee tendon with a chain and, using an electric lifting mechanism, lifted it up until only the cow’s head remained on the floor. Then he took a large piece of wire, through which, we were assured, no current passed, and inserted it into the hole between the eyes of the animal, made with a pistol. We were told that in this way the connection between the cranial and spinal cord of the animal is broken, and it dies. Every time a man inserted a wire into the cow’s brain, it kicked and resisted, although it seemed to be already unconscious. Several times while we watched this operation, not completely stunned cows, kicking, fell from the metal platform, and the man had to take up the electric gun again. When the cow lost the ability to move, she was raised so that her head was 2-3 feet from the floor. The man then wrapped the head of the animal and slit its throat. When he did this, the blood splashed out like a fountain, flooding everything around, including us. The same man also cut the front legs at the knees. Another worker cut off the head of a cow rolled to one side. The man who stood higher, on a special platform, was skinning. Then the carcass was carried further, where its body was cut in two and the insides – lungs, stomach, intestines, etc. — fell out. We were shocked when a couple of times we had to see how quite large, quite developed calves fell out of there., because among those killed were cows in the late stages of pregnancy. Our guide said that such cases are common here. Then the man sawed the carcass along the spine with a chain saw, and it entered the freezer. While we were in the workshop, only cows were butchered, but there were also sheep in the stalls. Animals, waiting for their fate, clearly showed signs of panic fear – they were choking, rolling their eyes, foaming from their mouths. We were told that pigs are electrocuted, but this method is not suitable for cows., because to kill a cow, it would take such an electrical voltage that the blood coagulates and the meat is completely covered with black dots. They brought a sheep, or three at once, and put it back down on a low table. Her throat was slit with a sharp knife and then hung up by her hind leg to drain the blood. This ensured that the procedure would not have to be repeated, otherwise the butcher would have to manually finish off the sheep, thrashing about in agony on the floor in a pool of its own blood. Such sheep, who do not want to be killed, are called here “clumsy types” or “stupid bastards“. In the stalls, the butchers tried to budge the young bull. The animal felt the breath of approaching death and resisted. With the help of pikes and bayonets, they pushed him forward into a special pen, where he was given an injection to make the meat softer. A few minutes later, the animal was dragged into the box by force, with the door slammed shut behind it. Here he was stunned with an electric pistol. The animal’s legs buckled, the door opened and it fell to the floor. A wire was inserted into the hole on the forehead (about 1.5 cm), formed by the shot, and began to rotate it. The animal twitched for a while, and then calmed down. When they began to fasten the chain on the hind leg, the animal again began to kick and resist, and the lifting device lifted it at that moment above the pool of blood. The animal is frozen. A butcher approached him with a knife. Many saw that the look of the steer was focused on this butcher; the animal’s eyes followed his approach. The animal resisted not only before the knife entered it, but also with the knife in its body. By all accounts, what was happening was not a reflex action—the animal was resisting in full consciousness. It was stabbed twice with a knife, and it bled to death. I have found the death of pigs electrocuted to be particularly painful. First, they are doomed to a miserable existence, locked in pigsties, and then swiftly taken away along the freeway to meet their fate. The night before slaughter, which they spend in the cattle pen, is probably the happiest night of their lives. Here they can sleep on sawdust, they are fed and washed. But this brief glimpse is their last. The screech they make when they get electrocuted is the most pitiful sound imaginable.  

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