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«Review of modified and copy Mark IV type restraint boxes Australian Chief Veterinary Officer Published July 2013 Summary Humane slaughter of cattle ...»

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Review of modified and copy

Mark IV type restraint boxes

Australian Chief Veterinary Officer

Published July 2013


Humane slaughter of cattle is best achieved through effective prior stunning. However, in some

markets stunning is not yet accepted and unstunned slaughter of cattle is used. Where cattle are

slaughtered without prior stunning humane mechanical restraint is required.

A review of the original Mark IV cattle restraint box concluded that its proper use is consistent with the requirements of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Code—Chapter 7.5: Slaughter of Animals and on this basis slaughter of cattle using the original Mark IV restraint box was found to have ongoing appropriateness.

I am advised that only a small number of these original restraint boxes were installed in Indonesia and that a number of supply chains in Indonesia are using copy or modified boxes. A formal letter of complaint and DVD footage was received by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), from Animals Australia in February 2012. This letter alleged breaches of animal welfare requirements in supply chains approved under Australia’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) were occurring during the use of the Mark IV type restraint boxes in Indonesia.

Of the fourteen restraint boxes observed on the DVD footage supplied six did not have features consistent with them having been original Mark IV restraint boxes, the remaining eight appear to be modified Mark IV restraint boxes.

None of the restraint boxes observed in the footage were being used as recommended. Copy boxes and modified boxes were found not to operate consistent with the operational standards of original Mark IV restraint boxes, which can result in significant animal welfare risks. Copy boxes and modified boxes seen in the footage appeared to be underpowered (slow and jerky movement), lacking pressure relief valves, built with protrusions that have potential to injure and cause pain to restrained cattle and do not have effective head/neck restraint as seen in the original Mark IV restraint box.

Animal welfare risks from the use of the above restraint boxes include, but are unlikely to be limited to excess pressure applied by the restraint (resulting in broken ribs or shoulders), injury caused by exposed bolt heads, absent or hard rubber buffers, and head slapping due to absence of head/neck restraint.

This review recommends that pre-slaughter stunning be used wherever possible and additional efforts be put into encouraging global uptake of pre-slaughter stunning. However, given that not all markets accept stunned slaughter this review further recommends that all Mark IV type restraint boxes in ESCAS-approved supply chains should be audited and assessed and where necessary upgraded. Specifically this review recommends that all Mark IV type restraint boxes must use a neck restraint that minimises the risk of head slapping and associated self harm. That restraint may be mechanical or consist of a strap to be applied before the animal is moved into a laterally recumbent position.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 2 Review of modified and copy Mark IV type restraint boxes This review identified a number of aspects associated with the use of these restraint boxes that warrant closer attention. This review makes the following recommendations.

1. Restraint boxes reliant upon electrical power should only be acceptable within ESCAS supply chains in facilities with reliable supplies of electricity.

2. All operators must demonstrate ESCAS-consistent alternative arrangements in the event of power failure or insufficient power.

3. All restraint boxes reliant on hydraulic pressure must be fitted with operational pressure relief valves and sight gauges in view of the operator.

4. Operators of these restraint boxes must demonstrate their competency to use the equipment with specific attention to ensuring cattle are not subject to excessive body restraint pressure.

5. Restraining devices be routinely assessed, including during ESCAS audits, for absence of sharp edges and harmful protrusions.

Compliant equipment may be used in a non-compliant manner by poorly trained or incompetent and unsupervised operators. Therefore it is recommended that all operators using restraint equipment be required to demonstrate their ability to use it in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and OIE guidance. Operators of restraint boxes should be required to demonstrate access to and familiarity with the operating and maintenance instructions relevant to the equipment. The standard operating procedures provided for use of this equipment should be reviewed and amended to ensure consistent, humane slaughter of cattle through rapid and effective head restraint which allows for quick access to the throat of the animal.

A number of the findings of this review could have been discovered through thorough independent audits using the ESCAS checklist. This review recommends that an investigation be conducted to determine why independent auditors are not recording the above defects when using the ESCAS checklist.

Overall, Mark IV type cattle restraint boxes, if designed, maintained and operated as per the original Mark IV manufacturer’s instructions to meet the ESCAS checklist requirements, provide a humane animal welfare tool for the slaughter of cattle under the conditions observed.

Introduction This review follows a formal letter of complaint accompanied with DVD slaughter footage sent to DAFF by Animals Australia in February 2012. The letter alleged animal welfare breaches during the use of the Mark IV type restraint boxes in Indonesia, and some concerns with configuration differences in box design.

The footage provided to the department showed slaughter processing using Mark IV type restraint boxes. Animals involved are of a type that could have been sourced from Australia.

To manage animal welfare risks during the process of slaughter, animals should be effectively stunned immediately before slaughter (pre-stunning). This abolishes all chances of conscious suffering during the process. The Australian Government’s position on cattle slaughter is to encourage all operators to effectively stun all animals in ESCAS-approved supply chains prior to Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 3 Review of modified and copy Mark IV type restraint boxes exsanguination by knife. The appropriate use of well designed, maintained, suitable and well operated stunning and restraint equipment at a slaughterhouse in these cases should minimise any adverse animal welfare outcomes during the slaughter process. Conversely, all facilities and equipment if used inappropriately have the potential to lead to adverse animal welfare outcomes.

In facilities where stunning is not currently accepted, OIE-consistent animal welfare outcomes can be achieved using humane handling and slaughter techniques and efficient and secure animal restraint to manage the welfare risks. In these instances the suitability of restraint is critical to achieve the welfare outcome sought. Physical restraint is required to approach Australian-sourced cattle and hold them for the duration of the slaughter process. Restraint equipment used to facilitate cattle slaughter worldwide aims to enable safe, humane and effective slaughter.

The original Mark IV restraint box was developed to facilitate humane slaughter of larger, less domesticated Australian sourced cattle in Indonesia. As pre-stunning is not yet widely adopted in Indonesia, the original Mark IV restraint box offers improvement in the handling and restraint of animals if used as intended. A previous review (20) of slaughter performed by competent people using well maintained, original Mark IV restraint boxes and in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions found that animal welfare outcomes associated with the use of the original Mark IV cattle restraint box are consistent with the requirements of the OIE Code—Chapter 7.5 Slaughter of Animals. On this basis slaughter of cattle using the original Mark IV restraint box was found to have ongoing appropriateness.

After the export of live cattle to Indonesia was temporarily suspended in 2011, I understand that incomplete plans for the original Mark IV restraint box were released. There are now Mark IV style boxes, whose construction is based to a greater or lesser degree on these plans, that have been fabricated in Indonesia and that are in use in Indonesian slaughterhouses. These boxes are referred to as “copy boxes”. There are also original Mark IV restraint boxes that have been modified after installation, these are referred to as ‘modified boxes’. The term ‘Mark IV type’ boxes in this review, includes both copy and modified boxes.

This review did not reconsider the appropriateness of the original Mark IV restraint box and did not revisit footage of original Mark IV restraint boxes.

Footage of cattle being slaughtered using Mark IV type boxes was provided to the department by Animals Australia and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The footage showed the slaughter of cattle at several slaughterhouses in Indonesia. Some of the footage had previously been reviewed in early 2012 by DAFF to determine whether there had been ESCAS breaches during processing.

A further review of the footage was undertaken in order to determine:

 whether the restraint and slaughter techniques used caused undue stress on the animals  whether the Mark IV type restraint boxes in the footage had features to manage risks to animals during the restraint process  how risks introduced by Mark IV type restraint boxes might be managed.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 4 Review of modified and copy Mark IV type restraint boxes Methodology This review was limited to a desktop assessment of Mark IV type restraint boxes and sought to identify potential issues with copy and modified Mark IV restraint boxes. A desktop review of available footage was conducted together with a literature review (see reference list). The review process followed was similar to that of the previous assessment of restraint boxes, that is, whether the slaughter outcomes seen were consistent with guidance provided in the OIE Code.

Given the limitations of this review approach, the findings of this review should be used as a starting point in addressing potential issues with Mark IV type restraint boxes. I recommend that each restraint box be individually assessed against the potential issues identified in this report.

Having previously (20) established that original Mark IV restraint boxes were appropriate if properly maintained and used by competent animal handlers and slaughter personnel, this review sought to establish whether copy or modified boxes could also provide acceptable animal welfare outcomes during the slaughter process. This was determined through observation of the available footage for compliance with animal welfare requirements in the ESCAS checklist as well as identification of any unmanaged hazards due to the operation and design of the restraint apparatus that could adversely affect the welfare of the animal during the process of restraint and slaughter.

All observations were compared to the “Guidance on Meeting OIE Animal Welfare Standards” developed by the Industry Government Working Group and to the internationally accepted animal welfare guidance in the OIE Code - Chapter 7.1 Introduction to the Recommendations for Animal Welfare (incorporating the recently adopted Article 7.1.4, General principles for the welfare of animals in livestock production systems) and Chapter 7.5 Slaughter of Animals.

The footage was further reviewed to determine if the restraint boxes were original Mark IV restraint boxes, copy boxes or modified boxes. As only modified and copy boxes were seen, these types of restraint box were then compared with the original Mark IV box specifications and operating instructions for assessment of the likelihood of adverse impact on animals held in restraint.

Images, photographs, design specifications and industry funded research reports on the use and performance of the Mark IV type restraint box were considered and face to face consultation with the designer, manufacturer and supplier of the original Mark IV restraint box, Mr Gary Stark was held.

The adequacy of the current Animal Welfare Performance Measures and Targets checklist in the ESCAS for assuring OIE-consistent animal welfare outcomes was also reviewed.

Background Australia has supplied restraint boxes into a number of markets where Australian live cattle are exported. In some cases there are unreliable supplies of electricity, water and refrigeration in these locations which preclude import and storage of boxed beef.

Poor animal welfare outcomes filmed in some Indonesian abattoirs and broadcast in May 2011 led to the temporary suspension of live exports of Australian cattle to that market. ESCAS was developed and the Minister asked the Chief Veterinary Officer to review the ongoing Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 5 Review of modified and copy Mark IV type restraint boxes appropriateness of the Mark I and IV restraint boxes. The Mark I restraint box was found unsuitable and the original Mark IV restraint box was found to be appropriate when used properly, that is, capable of being operated to deliver animal welfare outcomes consistent with the advice in the OIE Code (20). The original Mark IV restraint box currently meets financial, infrastructure and cultural requirements as a piece of equipment to facilitate humane slaughter and hygienic processing of cattle in the Indonesian market.

Traditional slaughter techniques in Indonesia involve casting cattle onto the ground. This familiarity with recumbent slaughter together with the physical ease of handling cattle in the original Mark IV restraint box and improved operator safety has led to ready adoption of the Mark IV box in Indonesia.

Some Mark IV boxes have been used to facilitate stunning with animals restrained laterally and stunned before sticking. The boxes can also be adapted with an operator platform to enable stunning of the standing animals from above. However the Mark IV box is primarily used for unstunned slaughter of cattle.

As highlighted in the previous report (20) poor animal welfare outcomes at slaughter may arise


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