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Medieval depiction of the slaughter of a pig ( monthly picture )

Under a slaughter means the killing of animals by blood withdrawal to their meat for human consumption to win, with by-products such as bone , horn and skin further processing can be fed. The legal EU defines general than killing an animal for human consumption.

In most western states, slaughter may only be carried out by trained butchers (regionally also known as butchers, butchers or butchers) and is officially monitored as part of the ante-mortem and meat inspection .

The type of slaughter has been shown to have a major impact on the quality of the meat. The less stress and fear the animals experience, the higher the meat quality.


In most western nations, livestock may only be slaughtered after stunning (medical: deactivation of the higher brain functions, during slaughter: after effective elimination of pain a state of unconsciousness and insensibility). Anesthesia should be performed before blood withdrawal. This is to ensure that the animals do not suffer unnecessary pain from slaughter wounds. There are the following stunning methods:

  • Before nail guns were introduced, the anesthetic used to slaughter pigs at home was performed by striking the head of the animal with the blunt side of a medium-weight ax. The head hit method is still used for fish caught by hand. Special killers are available for this.
  • Butcher's guns (bolt and rarely bullet guns): In animals with a thick scalp and a strong skull , such as cattle or horses , the anesthesia is carried outby means of a targeted shot into the brain . The steel bolt of the bolt gun penetrates through the skull of the animal deep into the brain and destroys it. In the case of cattle, the butcher aims at the imaginary intersection of two lines that connect the horn attachment point and the opposite eye. Pigs are only stunned with the nail gun when they are slaughtered at home. The butcher places the nail gun firmly on the pig's forehead two finger widths above the eyes.
    Contact points of the bolt gun in slaughter animals
    Cattle (large cattle) are only stunned with the bolt gun.
  • Electrical stunning: For smaller animals such as poultry, a current surge of 50 to 80 volts is sufficient  for 8 to 15  seconds ; for sheep and pigs, a voltage of 360 volts is used. This triggers a so-called epileptiform seizure in the brain (comparable to the epileptic seizure in humans), which leads to a loss of perception and sensibility (unconsciousness), making the animals insensitive to pain. This stunning method is most efficient when the animals are in the water .
  • Inert gases : Pigs are increasingly beingstunnedwith carbon dioxide in CO 2 systems (“backloader”). The pigs are transported in small groups (min. 2, max. 8 animals) in gondolas or baskets (paternoster system) to the depth of a pit (approx. 9 meters) in which there is the gas that is heavier than air. CO 2 stunningis mainly used at slaughterhouses with fastconveyor belts. In this pit the pigs loseconsciousnessby inhaling the CO 2 gas mixture and then by lack of oxygen. Then the unconscious animals are raised again and automatically tipped out of the gondola. This method is controversial because the animals still gasp for air for around 15 seconds with shortness of breath or fear of suffocation before inhaling the anesthetic gas causes a lowering of the pH value in the blood and thus also in the brain, which leads to a loss of perception and sensitivity results. They are then bleeded while hanging by cutting through the carotid artery, which then leads to death. The blood withdrawal must then be carried out at short notice, otherwise many pigs would wake up. Studies have shown that contact with carbon dioxide triggers stress in the animals, whichcould be avoidedby using other inert gases such as nitrogen or the noble gases argon and helium , which stun just as well by displacing oxygen. However, higher costs would be incurred in this case, but above all the quality of the carcass would not be satisfactory when using argon. When using helium, on the other hand, the quality of the meat is better than in animals that have beenstunnedby CO 2 , since the animals do not notice the lack of oxygen and thus do not release any stress hormones. The use of helium is currently being researched [as of 2014] at the Max Rubner Institute in Kulmbach.

Battle road

Slaughter inspection

In slaughterhouses or large butcher shops , the stunned animals are hung by their feet (stumps) on an elevated track, poultry are brought into slaughtering funnels . In order to prevent soiling and microbiological contamination , the carcass is processed from above. Usually one person is available per work step who is only responsible for their area. The job description of the head butcher includes the following areas of activity.

Stun and attach

At the beginning of the slaughter line there is anesthesia, in the case of pigs often with electric pliers, and the pulling of the carcasses onto a tube track. For reasons of hygiene, sling chains are used for hanging in this sub-step, since the carcass has not yet been cleaned or opened here. Pipe track hooks are used later.

Parting and bleeding

After stunning, the animals are "stung" so that they bleed out. The actual killing of the stunned animal only takes place with the sting. The butcher therefore also speaks of "stabbing" or "slaughtering". To do this, the butcher sticks the animal either with a conventional knife or with a hollow knife in the area of ​​the breast entrance and opens the large blood vessels near the heart. If this prick does not succeed, or if the entire vein is severed, which then rolls up inwards, it is a matter of "piercing" and the animal bleeds out inwards. The withdrawal of blood means that the animals' brains are no longer supplied with oxygen, so that death occurs within a short time.

There are different types of piercing:

  • Neck stitch (puncture in front of the breastbone): in pigs, cattle, horses
  • Vein cut (severing the carotid artery): in large cattle, horses
  • Neck stitch (piercing the larynx): in sheep, goats, calves

The sting is done lying down or hanging. When stinging while lying down, the animal lies on its side. If it is stung while hanging, the animal is hung upside down with a slaughter chain on the hind leg. In slaughterhouses, the animals hang over the blood collecting trough or blood collecting tray to sting. A sharp knife about 14 cm long is used for pricking. For cattle and horses, a longer, 20 cm long knife is used. With cattle, the skin on the neck is best slaughtered (cut open) from the chest down and then stabbed.

  • Neck stitch: Here, the neck of a pig is stretched by pressing the front leg upwards. The knife is placed about 3 fingers wide in front of the breastbone and stabbed backwards towards the heart and tail end in order to hit the blood vessels behind. The blade penetrates the animal's neck until it stops. In the case of pigs, a hollow prick is often used, whereby the blood is sucked off by negative pressure and fed into the blood stirrer for further processing. In order to prevent the blood from clumping, it is continuously stirred by the stirrer.
  • Vein cut: The neck of the animal is cut through to almost the cervical spine with a freshly sharpened butcher's knife / butcher's knife / butcher's knife . The trachea, esophagus and blood vessels are severed.
  • Neck stitch: The head of the animal is fixed backwards with one hand, with the other one pierces the neck right behind the ear. The neck is completely pierced. With a strong cut, the neck is cut forward, and thus the carotid artery of the animal is severed.

After a proper bleeding incision, the blood immediately shoots out of the stab wound in a thick stream with the rhythm of the heartbeat.

In the next step, the head and front feet of cattle, sheep, goats and horses are neatly separated. Pigs, on the other hand, are first scalded in approx. 62 ° C hot water or steam so that the top layer of skin and the bristles can then be removed in a dehairing machine. The next step is to remove the upper and lower eyelids (mask), as well as the external auditory canals. These parts are not suitable for human consumption and are discarded ( confiscates ). The inedible portion of meat around the puncture site for bleeding pigs or cattle is called puncture meat .

Remove skin, hair and feathers

Skin removal of a zebra after hunting on a hunting farm in Namibia (2018)

The carcass is now hung by the hind legs above the knee so that the hind feet can be removed from below the tarsal joints. Then the skin of sheep and cattle is pre-cut and then peeled off. In small slaughterhouses, the skin is cut down, as pulling it off accelerates the production of germs.

In the case of pigs and poultry, the bristles or feathers are removed and the skin remains on the slaughtered animal. It does this through scalding. In the past, this was treatment with hot water and, in the case of pigs, with the scraping bell , poultry were then plucked . Today these work steps are mechanized. Scalding resin is sometimes used to remove hair from slaughtered pigs.

The skin of the animals is mostly used for fur or leather production.

Eviscerating (also: eviscerating)

Slaughtered rabbit with liver

When removing the bowels , the so-called evisceration , care must be taken that no fecal residues from the intestines or anus reach the meat. State of the art today are clips made of rubber or metal, which are placed around the throat and rectum and thus prevent excrement and food residues from escaping. If necessary, the abdominal and chest cavities can now be rinsed out with drinking water. Contrary to popular belief, the meat cannot be “watered down” for physical reasons. One reason is the high temperature difference between the carcass and the ambient air (usually 30 ° C and more), which means that residues of the water evaporate quickly due to the higher water vapor partial pressure . After the abdominal and thoracic organs have been removed and the carcasses split in the middle along the spine, the official meat inspection of the animal carcasses (halves) and the by-products of the slaughter is carried out by official veterinarians or by official specialist assistants (until the end of 2005: meat inspectors).

In the case of commercial slaughtering, the carcass parts and slaughterhouse waste that are not fit for human consumption are taken to a special cooling room as confiscates and stored temporarily until they are collected by the animal carcass disposal facility . For house slaughter on a farm, disposal by digging into the dung heap was a common method.

Finally, the official slaughter weight is determined.

Editing and cleaning

After previous cooling to a maximum of 7 ° C or less in the core (in the case of beef in the leg, in the case of pork in the ham), the body is broken down into the appropriate pieces. Large butchers usually deliver halves of pork or beef quarters. In Austria, too, the traditional division of Vienna is of secondary importance .

Personal equipment and protective clothing for the butcher / butcher

Protective clothing and equipment of a butcher / butcher / butcher

  • White rubber boots
  • Long, rubberized apron (butcher's apron)
  • Butcher's smock (butcher's jacket)
  • White headgear, boat, cap, and in slaughterhouses also hard hats
  • Knife quiver , knife pocket
  • Butcher's knife / butcher's knife / butcher's knife
  • Stabbing knife
  • Skinning knife
  • Sharpening steel
  • Chain glove and chain apron to protect against knife accidents

During the slaughter work, the butcher / butcher always carries his knives close at hand and safely stored in the knife quiver, strapped to his belt. The sharpening steel is also attached to the belt and always ready to hand.

Pasture slaughter

In Germany, slaughter on pasture is permitted under strict legal conditions. A permit for pasture slaughter is only granted if a bullet stunning takes place; the animals are kept on pasture all year round and the owner justifies the application accordingly. For example, Section 12 TierSchlV in conjunction with Appendix 1 No. 2 only permits emergency killing and “with the consent of the competent authority for stunning or killing cattle that are kept outdoors all year round”. The bolt shot must be fired at the head of the animal.

In Switzerland, a one-time permit for pasture slaughter was issued in 2016, which was limited to one year. As a result, further permits were issued and slaughter using nail guns was also permitted.

In Austria, pasture slaughter is prohibited (as of 2016).

Animal rights activists consider this killing to be gentler, because the animals stay in their familiar surroundings and are not exposed to any stress during the killing . This also improves the quality of the meat.

So far, almost exclusively cattle have been slaughtered on pasture. Only a few farms also slaughter pigs in the pasture. Special devices are necessary for this. The Land.Luft Leberfing has z. B. developed an extra mobile slaughter trailer, which also has EU approval. The mobile slaughter trailer is pulled out into the pasture and the animals are fed here. The animals do not notice the stunning and the subsequent slaughter. This has been scientifically confirmed by the Veterinary Faculty of the Technical University of Munich.

Animal welfare

The animal welfare in connection with the slaughter controls in the European Union Council Regulation (EC) no. 1099/2009, including care, housing, restraining, stunning and bleeding of the animals. Other rules apply to killing during hunting, recreational fishing, animal experiments or cultural or sporting events, while their comprehensive organizational and precautionary rules apply to a limited extent for slaughter for private personal consumption and for the direct sale of small quantities of poultry, hare or rabbit meat. In Germany, the Animal Welfare Slaughter Ordinance (TierSchlV) contains rules for their implementation and supplementation. According to this, the animals are to be spared any avoidable pain, stress and suffering in all related activities. Animals may only be killed according to German law, as quickly and painfully as possible, according to the methods specified there, whereby the animal's insensitivity and insensibility must reliably persist until its death. In the case of "simple" anesthesia, that is, one that does not kill immediately, a method that causes death such as bleeding, destruction of the spinal cord or killing by means of an electric current or prolonged deprivation of oxygen should therefore be used as quickly as possible.

According to an investigation by the Max Rubner Institute in Kulmbach , which was carried out under the direction of the veterinarian and meat researcher Klaus Tröger, up to one percent of the slaughter pigs are not properly bled, with the result that they only die while scalding, which can be associated with suffering . This can be seen in the meat inspection on a scalded water lung , i.e. at least one more breath has been taken in the scalded water. Around 500,000 pigs are thus boiled alive in Germany every year. The situation with cattle is just as dramatic: According to Tröger, the captive bolt shot intended for stunning missed the target in around 200,000 animals, so that they too suffer a painful death. The reason given is the piecework wages in the slaughterhouses and the high error rate resulting from the time pressure: a so-called trigger only has about two seconds to cut a pig's arteries .

In 2012, at the request of the Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen party, the federal government gave the incorrect stunning rate in pigs for hand-held electrical systems at 12.5 percent and for automatic systems at 3.3 percent. The error rate in cattle was sometimes given as over 9 percent.

Every year up to 180,000 pregnant cows were slaughtered in Germany and around 15,000 in Switzerland . It must be assumed that the unborn calves die a painful death in the process. Since 2017 it has been forbidden for animal keepers in Germany to give up mammals (except sheep and goats) for slaughter in the last third of their gestation. In Switzerland, an industry agreement has been used since 2017, which provides for documenting pregnancy. As a result, an average of around 2500 cases were reported each year. In addition, since January 1, 2020, livestock keepers are to be sanctioned with a fee of 100 francs if they can be shown to hand over pregnant cows or cattle for slaughter without good reason. According to the Swiss Farmers' Association, a ban would not be effective.

Ritual slaughter


Butchering a chicken according to the Jewish rite

Battles according to the Jewish rite are called Schächten (from Hebrew Schechita ). When the animal is slaughtered, a very sharp knife is used to open the underside of the neck, the large blood vessels and the trachea and esophagus with a single large cut. The animal must then bleed completely. The slaughtering must be done by a shochet , a ritual butcher who himself has received special practical and religious training. Only the meat of animals that have been slaughtered according to this special rite is considered kosher .

Islamic rite battles

Slaughter of a cattle according to the Islamic rite

According to Islamic regulations , domestic animals (camels, cattle, sheep, goats, poultry) must be slaughtered according to a special rite, the Dhakāt (ذكاة / ḏakāh ) and is similar in some respects to the Jewish shaft. Only meat from animals slaughtered according to this rite is considered halāl . The Dhakāt rite requires compliance with the following rules:

  • The animal must be slaughtered with a sharp object that is suitable for "bleeding it out by severing the blood vessels."
  • There are two methods of slaughter, dhabh (ذبح / ḏabḥ ) and Nahr (نحر / naḥr ). The Nahr method is only used with camels and less often with cattle. A sharp knife is stuck into the throat of the standing animal. The Dhabh method is used for all other animals (cattle, goats, sheep, poultry). Here, the animal, which is placed on its left side, has its throat and neck veins severed in a single cut. Only if it is not possible to reach the animal's throat, for example because it runs away, is it allowed to injure the animal in another part of the body. This latter type of slaughter is called ʿAqr (عقر) called.
  • When slaughtering, the name of Allah must be pronounced over the animal and no other name may be mentioned. This commandment is based on various Koranic statements, in particular sura 6: 121: “Do not eat what the name of God was not spoken of!” (Cf. also sura 5: 3 and 6: 118).
  • The end of the battle must be a Muslim or a member of the scriptural religions (Christian, Jew, Zoroastrian ), in full possession of the spiritual powers and sober.
  • The animal should be aligned with the qibla when slaughtered . However, this is not an obligation, it is only recommended .
  • In addition, the animal intended for slaughter must not be sick or injured in such a way that its imminent death can be foreseen.

Conflict between religious freedom and animal welfare

Camel slaughter in Mauritania (2007)

European law exempts animals for which certain religious rites prescribe special slaughter methods from the regulation of an anesthetic that is completed before the bleeding begins, provided that they are slaughtered in the slaughterhouse.

After years of protests by animal welfare organizations and veterinarians, slaughtering was regulated by the state in Germany, whereby the term slaughtering here includes any slaughter without prior stunning regardless of whether it is carried out according to a Jewish or an Islamic rite. It is strictly forbidden for warm-blooded animals. However, the veterinary office can exceptionally allow it, if it is necessary so that members of a religious community can fulfill its provisions, which mandatorily prescribe slaughtering or deny the consumption of meat from slaughtered animals. For years, the Federal Veterinary Association for the German veterinary profession and the Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare have been demanding, on the basis of research findings on the development and interpretation of fear, pain and suffering during slaughter without anesthesia, that the possibility under German animal welfare law of an exemption for religiously motivated slaughter without stunning is abolished.

See also

Web links

Commons : slaughter  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Slaughter  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. according to § 4 para. 1 no. 3 of the German Meat Hygiene Act (FlHG) valid until 2005 , available from GmbH: Further application of the provisions of the Meat Hygiene Act (Germany)
  2. Article 2 j) of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009 of September 24, 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing
  3. Hanna Wullinger-Reber: Mobile slaughter of free-range pigs - animal welfare, meat quality and food safety -. Retrieved August 11, 2020 .
  4. Section 4, Paragraph 1 of the Animal Welfare Act (Germany), according to Article 2 f) of Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009 defined as: "Any method that is consciously used that causes an animal to become unconscious and insensitive without pain, including any method that leads to instant death "
  5. Comparative behavioral study and determination of humoral stress parameters when pigs are anaesthetized with carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) or argon ( memento of the original from September 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , from the annual report of the Institute for Technology, Kulmbach @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Patrick Hünerfeld : Animal Welfare - Better Slaughter. SWR television , May 23, 2014, accessed on July 6, 2016 .
  7. Jump up ↑ stunning during slaughter
  8. a b c d Henrik Hofmann: Pasture slaughter: Animal protection under the open sky. In: July 14, 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2017 .
  9. a b The pasture slaughter. In: KAGfreiland , April 25, 2018, accessed on January 27, 2019 .
  10. a b Slaughter on the farm. In: Research Institute for Organic Agriculture and Bio Suisse , December 11, 2018, accessed on January 27, 2019 .
  11. How a farmer slaughters his cattle in the pasture. In: Quarks & Co. WDR, March 31, 2015, accessed February 19, 2017 .
  12. Buy organic meat online | Land.Air Bio. Retrieved August 11, 2020 .
  13. Hanna Wullinger-Reber: Mobile slaughter of free-range pigs - animal welfare, meat quality and food safety -. Retrieved August 11, 2020 .
  14. Article 1 (3), Articles 10 and 11 of Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009
  15. Article 3 (1) of Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009, in Germany additional protection from avoidable agitation and harm, Section 3 TierSchlV
  16. § 12 TierSchlV
  17. Article 4 (1) of Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009 with a more detailed description of the permissible procedures in Appendix I; numerous concretizations and tightening in the German TierSchlV
  18. Patrick Hünerfeld: Meat Consumption: Torments in the Slaughterhouse. BR-online , March 30, 2010, archived from the original on September 26, 2010 ; accessed on January 13, 2014 .
  19. ↑ Topics of the day on slaughter: Failure to stun in the piece (press release of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation for our environment of March 30, 2010) . Albert Schweitzer Foundation for our environment . Archived from the original on October 11, 2011. Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved March 31, 2010. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  20. Meat industry: Government reprimands animal cruelty in slaughterhouses . Spiegel Online , June 21, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  21. Benjamin Cordes: Suffering: The slaughter of pregnant cows. In: Panorama 3. NDR, March 25, 2014, accessed on January 1, 2020 .
  22. Peter Fritsche, Roland Wermelinger: Finally an industry solution - no more pregnant cows on the slaughterhouse. SRF, January 24, 2017, accessed on January 1, 2020 .
  23. § 4 Animal Products Trade Prohibition Act - TierErzHaVerbG
  24. Peter Fritsche: Pregnant cows in the slaughterhouse - punishment for farmers should stop the suffering of unborn calves. SRF, November 29, 2019, accessed on January 15, 2020 .
  25. See G.-H. Bousquet: Art. Dh abīḥa in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition Vol. II., Pp. 213a-214a.
  26. Cf. Yusuf al-Qaradawi : What is permitted and prohibited in Islam. Translated in 1969 by Ahmad von Denffer . SKD- Bavaria Verlag, Munich 1989, p. 54.
  27. See G.-H. Bousquet: Art. Dh abīḥa in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition Vol. II., Pp. 213a-214a. Here p. 213b.
  28. Cf. Yusuf al-Qaradawi : What is permitted and prohibited in Islam. Translated in 1969 by Ahmad von Denffer . SKD- Bavaria Verlag, Munich 1989, p. 55.
  29. Cf. Yusuf al-Qaradawi : What is permitted and prohibited in Islam. Translated in 1969 by Ahmad von Denffer . SKD-Bavaria Verlag, Munich 1989, p. 55.
  30. See G.-H. Bousquet: Art. " Dh abīḥa" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition Vol. II., Pp. 213a-214a. Here p. 213b.
  31. See e.g. B. ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Baghdādī: Kitāb at-Talqīn fī l-fiqh al-mālikī . Ed. Zakarīyā ʿUmairāt. Dār al-kutub al-ʿilmīya, Beirut, 1999. p. 78.
  32. See e.g. B. ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Baghdādī: Kitāb at-Talqīn fī l-fiqh al-mālikī . Ed. Zakarīyā ʿUmairāt. Dār al-kutub al-ʿilmīya, Beirut, 1999. p. 78.
  33. Article 4 (4) of Regulation (EC) No 1009/2009. See also recital 43 there: "When slaughtering without stunning, a precise neck cut with a sharp knife is necessary so that the animal does not suffer so long. Furthermore, animals that are not immobilized by mechanical means after the neck cut are required to expect that the bleeding will slow down, causing the animals to suffer unnecessarily longer. ..... Ruminants that are slaughtered without anesthesia should therefore be immobilized individually and by mechanical means. "
  34. § 4a para. 2 no. 2 Animal Welfare Act
  35. Martin von Wenzlawowicz, Karen von Holleben: Animal protection in the anesthetized slaughter for religious reasons . In: Deutsches Tierärzteblatt 11, 2007, p. 1374. Statement by the DVT on slaughtering without stunning, responsible. Editor: Dr. Martin von Wenzlawowicz (as of December 2006)