New regulations laid in parliament to enhance animal welfare at slaughter

UK - Defra today introduced amendments to the legislation governing animal welfare at slaughterhouses, knacker's yards and during culls, resulting from measures introduced to control disease outbreaks. The amendments are designed to enhance animal welfare.
calendar icon 15 December 2003
clock icon 3 minute read
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The amending Statutory Instrument recognises the considerable developments in slaughter and killing methods which have taken place since the adoption of the EU Council Directive 93/119/EC on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing in 1993. It amends the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) (WASK) Regulations 1995, which implements the Directive in Great Britain.

Animal Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw said the Government had a commitment to improve continually the standards of animal welfare at slaughter and killing.

"The changes will offer improvements to the welfare of animals at slaughter and killing, without imposing undue burdens on industry," he said.

The Statutory Instrument makes four amendments to the WASK Regulations. It will:

  • permit the wider use of the new percussive device (modified captive bolt pistol) for use when culling poultry for disease control purposes;

  • end the current ban on the bleeding of animals in the sight of other animals of the same species, bringing England into line with Scotland, although the ban will still apply to equines;

  • 12 months after coming into force, reduce the maximum time poultry may be hung before being stunned or killed from six to three minutes for turkeys and from three to two minutes for other poultry excluding ratites and

  • require the surrender of suspended/revoked slaughter licences to the Meat Hygiene Service to ensure that a slaughterman who has had his or her licence suspended/revoked cannot operate as a slaughterman in another slaughterhouse or knacker's yard.

The modification of domestic legislation follows detailed consultation with farming, animal welfare and slaughtering industry stakeholders and falls within the constraints of the EU Directive.

Further Information

  1. The EU Council Directive 93/119/EC on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing was adopted in 1993 and transposed into domestic legislation by the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) 1995 Regulation.

  2. The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2003 was laid before Parliament today (15 December). It is due to come into force 6 January 2004. The provision relating to hanging times for poultry will come into force on 6 January 2005 in order to allow slaughterhouse operators time to alter their procedures where necessary.

  3. Defra has issued two formal consultations covering the amendments to the WASK Regulations. These took place in 2000 and 2001.

  4. The amendments are made on animal welfare grounds, based on scientific research which has been undertaken by the University of Bristol, to which Defra contributed funding, and by the Roslin Institute.

  5. Details of the amendments can be found on the Defra website at

    Source: Defra - 15th December 2003
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