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Workers and cattle in a slaughterhouse in 1942.

A slaughterhouse or abattoir is a facility where animals are slaughtered for consumption as food
Slaughterhouses supply meat which then becomes the responsibility of the packaging department.
Slaughterhouses that process meat not intended for human consumption are sometimes referred to
as knacker's yards or knackeries, used for animals that are not fit for consumption or can no longer
work on a farm such as work horses that can no longer work.
Slaughtering animals on a large scale poses significant logistical problems, animal
welfare problems, public health requirements, and environmental problems. Due to public aversion
in many cultures, determining where to build slaughterhouses is also troubling.
Animal welfare and animal rights groups frequently raise concerns about the methods of transport,
preparation, herding, and killing within some slaughterhouses under the example of animal rights
activists such as Howard Lyman and Ric O'Barry.


In the slaughterhouse, Lovis Corinth, 1893.

Until modern times, the slaughter of animals generally took place in a haphazard and unregulated
manner in diverse places. Early maps of London show numerous stockyards in the periphery of the
city, where slaughter occurred in the open air. A term for such open-air slaughterhouses
was shambles, and there are streets named "The Shambles" in some English and Irish towns
(e.g., Worcester, York, Bandon) which got their name from having been the site on which butchers
killed and prepared animals for consumption. Fishamble Street, Dublin was formerly a fish-
Reform movement
The slaughterhouse emerged as a coherent institution in the nineteenth century. A combination of
health and social concerns, exacerbated by the rapid urbanisation experienced during the Industrial
Revolution, led social reformers to call for the isolation, sequester and regulation of animal slaughter.
As well as the concerns raised regarding hygiene and disease, there were also criticisms of the
practice on the grounds that the effect that killing had, both on the butchers and the observers,
"educate[d] the men in the practice of violence and cruelty, so that they seem to have no restraint on
the use of it. An additional motivation for eliminating private slaughter was to impose a careful
system of regulation for the "morally dangerous" task of putting animals to death.

The Smithfield Market in 1855, before it was reconstructed.

As a result of this tension, meat markets within the city were closed and abattoirs built outside city
limits. An early framework for the establishment of public slaughterhouses was put in place in Paris
in 1810, under the reign of the Emperor Napoleon. Five areas were set aside on the outskirts of the
city and the feudal privileges of the guilds were curtailed.
As the meat requirements of the growing number of residents in London steadily expanded, the
meat markets both within the city and beyond attracted increasing levels of public disapproval. Meat
had been traded at Smithfield Market as early as the 10th century. By 1726, it was regarded as
"without question, the greatest in the world", by Daniel Defoe. By the middle of the 19th century, in
the course of a single year 220,000 head of cattle and 1,500,000 sheep would be "violently forced
into an area of five acres, in the very heart of London, through its narrowest and most crowded

Part of the original construction of the Smithfield Market in 1868.

By the early 19th century, pamphlets were being circulated arguing in favour of the removal of the
livestock market and its relocation outside of the city due to the extremely poor hygienic
conditions as well as the brutal treatment of the cattle. In 1843, the Farmer's Magazine published a
petition signed by bankers, salesmen, aldermen, butchers and local residents against the expansion
of the livestock market.
An Act of Parliament was finally passed in 1852. Under its provisions, a new cattle-market was
constructed in Copenhagen Fields, Islington. The new Metropolitan Cattle Market was also opened
in 1855, and West Smithfield was left as waste ground for about a decade, until the construction of
the new market began in the 1860s under the authority of the 1860 Metropolitan Meat and Poultry
Market Act. The market was designed by architect Sir Horace Jones and was completed in 1868.
A cut and cover railway tunnel was constructed beneath the market to create a triangular junction
with the railway between Blackfriars and Kings Cross. This allowed animals to be transported into
the slaughterhouse by train and the subsequent transfer of animal carcasses to the Cold Store
building, or direct to the meat market via lifts.
At the same time, the first large and centralized slaughterhouse in Paris was constructed in 1867
under the orders of Napoleon III at the Parc de la Villette and heavily influenced the subsequent
development of the institution throughout Europe.
Regulation and expansion

Blueprint for a mechanized public abattoir, designed by slaughterhouse reformer Benjamin Ward Richardson.

These slaughterhouses were regulated by law to ensure good standards of hygiene, the prevention
of the spread of disease and the minimization of needless animal cruelty. The slaughterhouse had to
be equipped with a specialized water supply system to effectively clean the operating area of blood
and offal. Veterinary scientists, notably George Fleming and John Gamgee, campaigned for
stringent levels of inspection to ensure that epizootics such as rinderpest (a devastating outbreak of
the disease covered all of Britain in 1865) would not be able to spread. By 1874, three meat
inspectors were appointed for the London area, and the Public Health Act 1875 required local
authorities to provide central slaughterhouses (they were only given powers to close insanitary
slaughterhouses in 1890). Yet the appointment of slaughterhouse inspectors and the establishment
of centralised abattoirs took place much earlier in the British colonies, such as the colonies of New
South Wales and Victoria. In Victoria, for example, the Melbourne Abattoirs Act
1850 (NSW) "confined the slaughtering of animals to prescribed public abattoirs, while at the same
time prohibiting the killing of sheep, lamb, pigs or goats at any other place within the city limits".
Attempts were also made throughout the British Empire to reform the practice of slaughter itself, as
the methods used came under increasing criticism for causing undue pain to the animals. The
eminent physician, Benjamin Ward Richardson, spent many years in developing more humane
methods of slaughter. He brought into use no less than fourteen possible anesthetics for use in the
slaughterhouse and even experimented with the use of electric current at the Royal Polytechnic
Institution. As early as 1853, he designed a lethal chamber that would gas animals to death relatively
painlessly, and he founded the Model Abattoir Society in 1882 to investigate and campaign for
humane methods of slaughter.
The invention of refrigeration and the expansion of transportation networks by sea and rail allowed
for the safe exportation of meat around the world. Additionally, meat-packing millionaire Philip
Danforth Armours invention of the 'disassembly line' greatly increased the productivity and profit
margin of industrial meatpacking businesses: "according to some, animal slaughtering became the
first mass-production industry in the United States." This expansion has been accompanied by
increased concern about the physical and mental conditions of the workers along with controversy
over the ethical and environmental implications of slaughtering animals for meat.

In the latter part of the 20th century, the layout and design of most U.S. slaughterhouses was
influenced by the work of Dr. Temple Grandin.[14] She suggested that reducing the stress of animals
being led to slaughter may help slaughterhouse operators improve efficiency and profit.[15] In
particular she applied an understanding of animal psychology to design pens and corrals which
funnel a herd of animals arriving at a slaughterhouse into a single file ready for slaughter. Her corrals
employ long sweeping curves so that each animal is prevented from seeing what lies ahead and just
concentrates on the hind quarters of the animal in front of it. This design along with the design
elements of solid sides, solid crowd gate, and reduced noise at the end point work together to
encourage animals forward in the chute and to not reverse direction. As of 2011, Grandin claimed to
have designed over 54% of the slaughterhouses in the United States as well as many others around
the world.
Mobile design
By 2010 a mobile facility the Modular Harvest System had received USDA approval. It can be moved
from ranch to ranch. It consists of three trailers, one for slaughtering, one for consumable body parts
and one for other body parts. Preparation of individual cuts is done at a butchery or other meat
preparation facility.

International variations
The standards and regulations governing slaughterhouses vary considerably around the world. In
many countries the slaughter of animals is regulated by custom and tradition rather than by law. In
the non-Western world, including the Arab world, the Indian sub-continent, etc., both forms of meat
are available: one which is produced in modern mechanizedslaughterhouses, and the other from
local butcher shops.
In some communities animal slaughter and permitted species may be controlled by religious laws,
most notably halal for Muslims and kashrut for Jewish communities. This can cause conflicts with
national regulations when a slaughterhouse adhering to the rules of religious preparation is located
in some Western countries. In Jewish law, captive bolts and other methods of pre-slaughter
paralysis are generally not permissible, due to it being forbidden for an animal to be stunned prior to
slaughter. Various halal food authorities have more recently permitted the use of a recently
developed fail-safe system of head-only stunning where the shock is non-fatal, and where it is
possible to reverse the procedure and revive the animal after the shock. The use of
electronarcosis[21] and other methods of dulling the sensing has been approved by the Egyptian
Fatwa Committee. This allows these entities to continue their religious techniques while keeping
accordance to the national regulations.[22]
In some societies, traditional cultural and religious aversion to slaughter led to prejudice against the
people involved. In Japan, where the ban on slaughter of livestock for food[specify]was lifted in the late
19th century, the newly found slaughter industry drew workers primarily from villages of burakumin,
who traditionally worked in occupations relating to death (such as executioners and undertakers). In
some parts of western Japan, prejudice faced by current and former residents of such areas
(burakumin "hamlet people") is still a sensitive issue. Because of this, even the Japanese word for
"slaughter" ( tosatsu) is deemed politically incorrect by some pressure groups as its inclusion of
the kanji for "kill" () supposedly portrays those who practice it in a negative manner.
Some countries have laws that exclude specific animal species or grades of animal from being
slaughtered for human consumption, especially those that are taboo food. The former Indian Prime
Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee suggested in 2004 introducing legislation banning the slaughter of
cows throughout India, as Hinduism holds cows as sacred and considers their slaughter unthinkable
and offensive. This was often opposed on grounds of religious freedom. The slaughter of cows and
the importation of beef into the nation of Nepal are strictly forbidden.
Some countries practices sustainable designs that allows minimal waste produced as effluents in
nearby bodies of water. In the Philippines, some slaughterhouse were poorly designed as shown by
contamination and pollution of nearby rivers
Freezing works
Refrigeration technology allowed meat from the slaughterhouse to be preserved for longer periods.
This led to the concept as the slaughterhouse as a freezing works. Prior to this, canning was an
option. Freezing works are common in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. The countries
where meat is exported for a substantial profit the freezing works were built near docks, or near
transport infrastructure.


USDAinspection of pig

Most countries have laws in regard to the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses. In the United
States, there is the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958, a law requiring that all swine, sheep, cattle, and
horses be stunned unconscious with application of a stunning device by a trained person before
being hoisted up on the line. There is some debate over the enforcement of this act. This act, like
those in many countries, exempts slaughter in accordance to religious law, such as kosher shechita
and dhabiha halal. Most strict interpretations of kashrut require that the animal be fully sensible
when its carotid artery is cut.
The novel The Jungle detailed unsanitary conditions, fictionalized, in slaughterhouses and the
meatpacking industry during the 1800s. This led directly to an investigation commissioned directly by
President Theodore Roosevelt, and to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food
and Drug Act of 1906, which established the Food and Drug Administration. A much larger body of
regulation deals with the public health and worker safety regulation and inspection.

Animal welfare concerns

In 1997, Gail Eisnitz, chief investigator for the Humane Farming Association (HFA), released a
book Slaughterhouse. Within, she unveils the interviews of slaughterhouse workers in the U.S. who
say that, because of the speed with which they are required to work, animals are routinely skinned
while apparently alive and still blinking, kicking and shrieking. Eisnitz argues that this is not only
cruel to the animals but also dangerous for the human workers, as cows weighing several thousands
of pounds thrashing around in pain are likely to kick out and debilitate anyone working near them.

Many slaughterhouses are called out by workers or outside sources for inhumane treatment of farm animals.

This would imply that certain slaughterhouses throughout the country are not following the guidelines
and regulations spelled out by the Humane Slaughter Act, requiring all animals to be put down and
thus insusceptible to pain by some form, typically electronarcosis, before undergoing any form of
violent action.
According to the HFA, Eiznitz interviewed slaughterhouse workers representing over two million
hours of experience, who, without exception, told her that they have beaten, strangled, boiled and
dismembered animals alive or have failed to report those who do. The workers described the effects
the violence has had on their personal lives, with several admitting to being physically abusive or
taking to alcohol and other drugs. The HFA alleges that workers are required to kill up to 1,100 hogs
an hour and end up taking their frustration out on the animals. Eisnitz interviewed one worker, who
had worked in ten slaughterhouses, about pig production. He told her:
"Hogs get stressed out pretty easy. If you prod them too much, they have heart attacks. If you get a
hog in the chute that's had the shit prodded out of him and has a heart attack or refuses to move,
you take a meat hook and hook it into his bunghole. You try to do this by clipping the hipbone. Then
you drag him backwards. You're dragging these hogs alive, and a lot of times the meat hook rips out
of the bunghole. I've seen hams thighs completely ripped open. I've also seen intestines come
out. If the hog collapses near the front of the chute, you shove the meat hook into his cheek and
drag him forward."

M/W 7:00 AM -12:00 AM

Submitted by:

May Grace C. Digol

Submitted to:

Archt. David Bautista