How do I kill myself at home

Low stress slaughter Why it makes sense to kill pigs in your home

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The future of slaughtering is currently being tested in Lower Bavaria - not in a slaughterhouse, but on the pasture. The goal: the stress burden for the animals must decrease.

From: Maximilian Sippenauer

Status: 11/21/2018 | archive

Once a year - mostly there was snow - there was no swing on the swing bar in my grandmother's garden, but a dead sow. Because once a year was slaughtered: a pig from the neighbor, meat stock for the whole family. For me as a little boy it was repulsive, but at least as fascinating. When the butcher, who had a wooden leg, cut up the sow, washed out the intestines with a hose, and later I twisted pork into the same intestines. I was allowed to go through all of that because it is part of eating meat to know that an animal has to die for it. Krass was actually only one moment: the killing. Even the rabid wooden leg butcher was extremely nervous. But not because he had any scruples like me, but because it was crucial that the sow was calm. The maxim: as little stress for the animal as possible. Why actually?

This question was recently investigated on the sustainable agricultural operation Land.Luft in Leberfing. In cooperation with the veterinary faculty of the LMU Munich, a pilot project for stress-free slaughter was carried out there. The idea is very simple: "Quality results from the well-being of the animals. That is why we slaughter the animals on the pasture and do not transport the animals to a slaughterhouse," explains Patrick Ossiander, operator of the farm in Lower Bavaria. "We bring a slaughter trailer to the fattening pasture, where the pigs spend their whole life. They are anesthetized in their familiar environment. That is very low-stress for the animals."

The debates about meat consumption have changed a lot in recent years. The awareness of species-appropriate husbandry has grown - also when it comes to killing animals. However, the problem of killing is mostly discussed in terms of pain, i.e. how to torture the animal as little as possible. At the bottom, however, is the subject of stress. Most animals, whether from organic farms or from conventional breeding, are carted in vans from their stables or from their pastures to slaughterhouses and only killed there. Pigs, for example, are highly sensitive animals that understand immediately when it comes to the slaughterhouse. Mainly because the way to the scaffold is often a very long and unfamiliar one. And this transport is an enormous stress for the animals.

In the case of slaughter on site, i.e. at the pigs' home, it is completely different. This has now been scientifically proven as part of the pilot project in Leberfing. Researchers from the veterinary faculty were able to use lactate tests and measurements of cortisol levels in saliva samples to show that the pigs, which they were slowly getting used to in a slaughter trailer, release far fewer stress hormones before slaughter. This is not only good for the animals, but also has an impact on the quality of the meat. "The loss of drip set, in other words the water that escapes during frying, is not that dramatic. And the aroma is excellent, provided, of course, the animal was also kept in a species-appropriate manner," says Prof. Dr. Gareis from the LMU Munich.

Absurdly, these are all things that were taken for granted twenty years ago when my grandmother's swing was taken down again. The butcher, my grandfather, everyone was talking to the pig, trying to keep it quiet on the few meters from the neighbor in its own garden. Everyone knew: stress is bad for meat. And the horror idea was always that a pig ran off and got a heart attack. Because then you can throw away the meat.

The fact that this awareness has been lost in recent years is also due to the changes in the processing infrastructure. According to Gareis, it can be observed that more and more pigs are being kept, but that they are being killed in fewer and fewer, highly professional slaughterhouses. For the pigs this means that the transport routes are getting longer and more stressful. The mobile battle trailer could be a solution here. Because slaughtering on site is not only better for the animals and the meat, but above all does not cost its customers a cent, says Patrick Ossiander. It is therefore worthwhile in every respect when buying meat in the future to pay attention to where and how the animal was killed.

Broadcast: Filter, November 21, 2018 from 3 p.m.