Emergency Slaughter Code Published

5 February 1997

People who routinely handle animals should have the proficiency to carry out emergency slaughter which causes minimum distress and suffering to the animal should the need arise according to the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Emergency Slaughter of Farm Livestock just released.

The situations requiring an animal to be killed in an emergency are many and varied, and include neglect, road accidents, injuries in transit, saleyards and meat plant yards, injury and disease on the farm, injuries at a race meeting, agricultural or pastoral show and in the case of a national emergency, such as a case of suspected exotic or notifiable disease, where it may be necessary to destroy all animals in a herd or flock.

The code outlines the best currently known methods of slaughtering animals in emergencies, particularly in the absence of veterinary assistance. The code identifies the slaughter methods needed to be humane and the physical signs indicating the effectiveness of the procedure. The methods, while not conforming to those used in commercial slaughter plants, will dispatch an animal swiftly, with minimal suffering and distress.

The code covers only the emergency slaughter of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, deer and horses and does not address specifically the emergency killing of other species of animals or birds which may be farmed in New Zealand.

It covers the statutory requirements, minimum standards and strong recommendations, as well as legal responsibilities and the power of inspectors under the Animal Protection Act 1960. The code also covers the Arms Act 1983 for persons using a firearm for the emergency killing of an animal.

The overriding consideration when undertaking an emergency slaughter is to prevent the animal from suffering further pain or distress. The code says an emergency slaughter should go ahead if there is likely to be an unacceptable delay in treating the animal’s pain, where transporting the animal would significantly perpetuate or aggravate the condition, or the pain is untreatable.

It is an offence, under the Animal Protection Act 1960, to allow animals to suffer unnecessary or unreasonable pain or distress. The Act also clearly states that it is an offence to keep alive an animal which is in such a condition that it would be cruel to keep it alive.

“This code has been the subject of extensive consultation and draws heavily on the pioneering research work of the late Professor David Blackmore and colleagues at Massey University and Ruakura Research Centre,” said David Bayvel, MAF’s Animal Welfare and the Environment national manager.

The code is the nineteenth in a series developed by AWAC. “The committee is to be congratulated for producing a valuable document which will ensure the humane dispatch of animals in circumstances where euthanasia is the only practical option, said Dr Bayvel.

For further information:
Dr David Bayvel, MAF Regulatory Authority, ph: (04) 4744251.

For a copy of the code:
Pam Edwards, MAF Regulatory Authority, ph: (04)4744129, Fax: (04)4744133



Last Updated: 08 September 2010

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