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Inside A Slaughterhouse
Approximately 35 million cattle are slaughtered each year in America. That's roughly 95,000 cows a day. Ever wonder how a live cow comes to be a piece of meat in your grocery store or a juicy hamburger at your favorite fast food place? Probably not. The meat industry relies upon your lack of knowledge to sell its products. But I think you should know. If your wiling to eat an animal, you should be willing to learn where it came from and what it went through to get to your dinner table.
When a cow reaches a weight of about 650 lbs, it is transferred to a feedlot. On the feedlot, the cow will be fed dense, high calorie, antibiotic laced food in order to develop larger deposits of fat (marbling) in its muscles. The cow will gain roughly 400 lbs during its 3 to 4 months on the feedlot. When it reaches a desired weight of 1100 -1300 lbs, the cow will be moved by truck or by rail to a slaughterhouse for processing.
In order to be considered healthy enough for slaughter, the cow is supposed to be able to walk unassisted into the herding corrals. Please note, however, the federal government does not require that animals with open wounds or festering tumors be treated prior to slaughter, just that they're able to walk into the herding corrals on their own. Herding corrals are long, winding, narrow chutes that the cows travel down to get to the kill floor. The chutes allow for single-file travel only. The chutes are winding with many curves so that the cows cannot see in front or behind them. The winding structure serves to help keep the cows from getting too fearful and excited.
The cows move down the winding chute where, one by one, they are locked in a 2 foot -wide concrete pen (some facilities use a more sophisticated tank-like containment area). This area is known as the knocking box. A slaughterhouse worker, known as the knocker, then puts a captive bolt pistol to the cow's forehead and pulls a trigger sending a retractable rod through the cow's skull and into its brain. This procedure is supposed to render the cow unconscious.
The cow is immediately attached to a pulley on the ceiling via a chain and hook and hoisted into the air. Its throat is slit, and its allowed to bleed out onto the floor. Then its head is cut off. Its skin is peeled away. Its organs are removed. Its body is processed into pieces of meat.
The process, when successfully executed, is supposed to be humane. I think that statement is questionable. What's important, however, is that example after example of inhumane and unsanitary practices in US slaughterhouses go unpunished each year. Reports of cows being shot multiple times with the captive bolt pistols due to poorly trained workers; still conscious cows being hung up on the pulleys, kicking and moaning, to have their throats slit; and ears, hooves, and udders being cut off of live cows when the bolt gun failed to work are all violations that have been documented to have occurred inside slaughterhouses. The latest round of reported violations came just this month when a veterinarian working for the USDA finally decided to speak out about the violations of food safety and humane slaughter laws that were being ignored by his supervisors. (Violations Revealed)
Please view the following short video about poultry and beef cattle slaughterhouses. The first 4.5 minutes are about poultry processing and the remainder is about cattle slaughtering. WARNING: While this is one of the least graphic videos I could find, it still contains scenes many readers will find disturbing. But really, if you can't watch the video, you shouldn't be eating meat (Cattle slaughterhouse video)
Cynthia Bateman blogs regularly on Blog About It
[Publisher's Note: Cynthia Bateman's Meat-Wise Monday series is now featured on The Truth Pursuit every Monday]