Ritual slaughter without stunning raises domestic cruelty concerns

LARGE cattle could suffer protracted deaths from throat cutting in Australian abattoirs, a government report investigating animal welfare issues surrounding ritual slaughter has found.


Animal welfare groups, Greens, independent MPS and some Labor backbenchers have criticised the absence of mandatory stunning in the proposal the Australian Government has taken to Indonesia to reopen the live cattle export trade. Yet government-approved slaughter without stunning continues daily in Australian abattoirs.


The 2008 report, commissioned by the Primary Industries standing committee and written by the Department of Agriculture's animal welfare branch, recommended that the practice of allowing traditional Halal and Kosher slaughter, which requires the throat of a beast to be slit while it is still sentient, be discontinued for large animals such as fully grown cattle because research showed it could take more than two minutes for such animals to lose consciousness.


Advertisement: Story continues below However, state and federal governments have failed to adopt the report's recommendations that a size limit be set on animals fit for slaughter without stunning and that alternative methods - which would render an animal unconscious before having its throat cut but still be acceptable to specific religious practices - should be investigated.


In 2009, a concerned member of the public, Harry Roden, from Newtown, wrote to the then minister for agriculture, Tony Burke, requesting the practice cease on grounds of cruelty.


Mr Roden received a response from Allen Grant, the executive manager of the department's Agricultural Productivity Division.

The letter, obtained by the Herald, dismissed Mr Roden's concerns and stated that ''the slaughter of livestock without stunning is a longstanding practice to meet the stated requirements of particular religious groups. Australia's management and control of this practice is consistent with the World Organisation for Animal Health's animal welfare guidelines.''


The Herald asked the Department of Agriculture for a list of the abattoirs granted exemptions of the stun-before-slaughter rule but it refused, saying that most approved arrangements were held by state and territory regulators. South Australia has nine and Victoria three abattoirs that were government-approved for ritual slaughter.