Last updated 18 September 2020

Before arriving at the slaughterhouse, cows are cramped onto trucks and transported vast distances without food or water. 48 hours without water is considered acceptable according the DAFF’s (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) ‘Animal Welfare, Standards and Guidelines for Land Transport of Livestock’, not that these standards or guidelines are monitored in any meaningful way.

Cattle in holding pens of a slaughterhouse.

In Australia, after coming off the truck and being left overnight in often cramped holding pens, they are then further traumatised by being forced down the ‘race’ and into the knockbox, often with the use of electric prodders or physical aggression, where they are shot in the head with a captive bolt gun or firearm. Performed correctly, this should render the cow unconscious and cause irreversible brain damage to the animal. Alternative non-skull-penetrating guns are also used in some slaughterhouses, which instead will cause concussion before unconsciousness. Then, the cow will have their throat slit before being hung upside-down, the blood draining from their body. For cattle live-exported overseas, they are often killed in far slower, more agonising ways.

It should be noted that there have been documented cases where the cow remains conscious as their throat is slit. Further, more than a dozen slaughterhouses in Australia have government approval to slit the throats of fully-conscious cows to satisfy the religious practices of ‘halal’ and ‘kosher’ slaughter.

Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals. Source: CSIRO