Transportation and receipt of animals in the slaughterhouse

Except for the small number of places whereby slaughter is carried out at the same place where animals are bred and kept prior to slaughter, all animals who survive the conditions imposed on them as part of the animal agriculture industry will be sent to slaughterhouses. In the Manual of Responsibilities in the Transport of Pigs, published by the Secretary of Agriculture, Farming, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food of Mexico (SAGARPA), it is recognised that the transport is a critical phase of the meat production process and that some animals do not survive their journey from the farm to the slaughterhouse. They may die of hunger, thirst or as a consequence of exposure to extreme changes in temperature – stress as a result of overheating or heat stroke – or suffociating from crushing due to overcrowding in the lorries.

Around 16 million animals die each year in Mexico alone due to transport conditions. This, and the fact that both authorities and the industry itself simply accept these deaths as the norm, supports the idea that the lives of these animals hold no value in and of themselves.

During the transport of the animals to the slaughterhouses, as well as after their arrival, the animals have been kicked, hit with rods and poles, thrown on the floor and stamped on. The violence, included that which is completely unnecessary in terms of the production process is inherent in the industry and is normalised. Taking this into account, it becomes clear that the law will have little impact upon the lived experiences of the animals.

Animals are separated from their social environment, loaded into lorries, forced into overcrowded spaces with animals they don’t know and forced to stand in their own urine and excrement. During the journey, they are forced to remain standing during long periods surrounded by unfamiliar noises, being thrown around as the lorry breaks and manoeuvres the roads. With practically no ventilation, the animals are forced to breath toxic, contaminated air laden with ammonia from their own defecations, as well as the exhaust fumes of the lorry taking them to their death. Many of the animals are transported with clear signs of illness, with broken legs, ill or with serious injury – something which is expressly forbidden in the SAGARPA handbook—. The animals must endure these conditions for up to 24 hours.

As a consequence of all this, the animals often arrive at the slaughterhouse exhausted and barely able to move. In these cases, electric shock poles are used on their hindquarters to force the, already terrified, animals to move. If the animal still does not move having been given electric shocks, a rope or chain is tied round them and they are stunned right there. As it can then take several minutes to move the unconscious animals to the kill floor, it is not unusual for them to regain consciousness during this time and go to their deaths fully awake and aware of what is happening to them.

The lorries that transport the animals are not insulated against changes in temperature and many do not have roofs so there is no protection for the animals from either the sun or the rain. A study carried out in the State of Queretaro confirmed an increase in animal deaths during transport during the hottest months of the year.

These images are part of an investigation carried out in more than 50 slaughterhouses in Mexico between 2015 and 2017.

You can read the full report here:

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