Developing a humane, halal compliant sheep and goat slaughter system
CALS Impact Statement
This project will help the Muslim community and others doing "local" slaughter to do a better job of meeting modern animal welfare requirements during slaughter and help make acceptance of their customs easier in the US or in other countries without such a tradition of slaughter. The focus has been on designing a commercially viable small scale slaughter pen for sheep and goats, designing a halal slaughter knife and developing a poster in multiple languages describing humane/halal slaughter procedures. A fact sheet for the public discussing religious slaughter is in preparation in cooperation with many different stakeholders.
Animal welfare is a subject that has become more critical in recent years as the chain restaurants and the supermarkets along with the production industry address animal welfare issues and the American public becomes more aware of the issue. A wide range of Muslim practices, some of which would not meet modern animal welfare concerns have been observed. This project was undertaken to help the community to correct this problem.
The project has addressed humane and halal slaughter requirements by developing a new double rail small animal handling pen that, hopefully, costs less than $1000 to build and can be built by a person who is handy with metal. A prototype has been in testing, results so far are favorable. A team of middle-level officials from the USDA’s FSIS group favorably received the equipment. Additional prototypes (now up to version 4) have been built and tested, working towards a pen that will be able to be disassembled and assembled easily for shipping. A special Muslim slaughter knife that is commercially available has been identified and field-tested and has been well received. A second one has been developed and is now being specifically sold for that purpose. A one-page poster has been developed and offered for sale. It is currently available in English, a Persian version is available and the translation into Arabic, Urdu, Malay, Turkish, Somali, and Spanish are available. The poster mainly uses pictures to illustrate good handling practices -- from catching and transporting single animals, to slaughter and proper disposal of offal. The poster has been used at various events. A web site www.spiritofhumane.com has been developed to commercialize the process.
This program will, hopefully, change both on farm and small packing houses practices along with home slaughter of a community that is trying to adjust to different norms, while retaining their religious and cultural practices. The equipment and posters are receiving more attention and I was honored to be a guest of the Muslim Council of Britain to speak about religious slaughter, including at an invitation only meeting with animal activists. Our of this meeting the idea of doing a fact sheet was developed and has been reviewed by a number of key stakeholders as it continues to be refined.