Mobile slaughterhouses are designed to spare animals the long journey and the associated stress on the way to the slaughterhouse. Thanks to an anesthesia stall and a special EU-approved slaughter trailer, which enables the immediate bleeding of the carcass, part of the actual slaughter (killing and bleeding) is carried out on the animal's usual farm. This eliminates the stressful transport of live animals. In the next step, the animal carcass is transported to the slaughterhouse for conventional processing.
According to the EU hygiene regulation, animals must be brought to the slaughterhouse alive. However, during these journeys to the slaughterhouse, animals suffer a great deal of stress, and if there is a large number of animals, the hygiene conditions are often inadequate. Comparatively less important, but nevertheless advantageous for addressing the demand, is the fact that the stress hormones released also negatively impact the quality of the meat.
Mobile slaughterhouses allow the butcher to come to the animal instead of transporting the animals to the slaughterhouses. By keeping the animal in its accustomed environment and anesthetizing it during feeding, animal welfare is ensured, as the animal does not experience the stress, fear and awareness of the impending slaughter. While small, regional slaughterhouses are becoming fewer and fewer, a mobile solution of this kind makes it easier for small organic farms to manage the costs per slaughter.
Traditionally, butchers came to the individual farms to slaughter the animals intended for meat production in their accustomed environment (exception: home slaughtering for own consumption). Due to many regulations at EU level, this method is hardly practiced anymore. In order to be able to carry out a field slaughter (bullet shot in the field) nowadays in Germany, a special permit is required. Instead, the animals have to be transported to central slaughterhouses, possibly far away.
As early as the 1960s, the first mobile slaughterhouses for deer were developed in the United Kingdom. In the 1990s further mobile slaughterhouses were approved for pigs, ostriches and chicken. Only recently, the first mobile slaughterhouses for cattle have been developed, whose development has been more challenging due to the size of the animals.
In Germany, mobile slaughterhouses for chicken already exist, and slaughterhouses for diverse species of livestock are currently being developed. Although the development of mobile slaughterhouses did not receive much positive response at the beginning, mobile slaughtering has by now become a highly valued slaughter method. The development of mobile slaughterhouses has not only been driven forward by the point of view of animal ethics, but also by the interest in improving the meat quality.There is the potential of introducing mobile slaughterhouses as an extension to the operations of all regional slaughterhouses. However, this requires clear, binding and nationally valid regulations for licensing authorities in order to guarantee fair chances, rapid processing and positive decisions for all new applicants.
In general, the mobile slaughterhouse is an approach that significantly reduces stress and agony for the animals stemming from the sometimes long transport distances to the slaughterhouses. Exceptional cases are viewed critically, where the bolt shot does not lead to the desired anesthesia of the animal at the first trial due to the lack of secure fixation of the animal. In this case, it would have to be repeated several times, which reduces the probability of attainment of each bolt shot and increases the animal suffering. Overall, it should be noted that despite the partial alleviation of animal suffering, the animal is still slaughtered for human consumption, which limits the animal welfare. In order to avoid animal suffering altogether, animal slaughter would have to be completely avoided. So-called 'animal sanctuaries' have committed themselves to this goal by saving animals from death, poor keeping or physical and psychological abuse and offering them a final refuge.
It should be noted that mobile slaughterhouses are designed for a small number of animals and therefore offer a solution for small organic farms rather than intensive livestock farming. In comparison, this method is more labor, time and cost intensive, resulting in higher end prices of the products. On the other hand, slaughterhouses can result in a good niche for farmers doing direct marketing, for whom animal welfare during transport and slaughter is of great importance.
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