Standard Australian slaughter practice ensures that animals are stunned, i.e. unconscious and insensible to pain, before being bled out at slaughter. However, a small number of abattoirs in Australia (located in NSW, SA and VIC) have been granted permission by the relevant State food authority to slaughter animals without prior stunning. This means that animals are fully conscious and experience pain and distress when they are slaughtered.
The standards for unstunned slaughter in Australia require that cattle are stunned immediately after the throat is cut. For sheep, there is no requirement for a post-cut stun unless the animal is distressed or does not lose consciousness quickly.
Unstunned slaughter is most often associated with religious slaughter, however it is important to note that in Australia, the majority of halal slaughter is conducted with prior stunning so that the animal is unconscious before being bled out.
What needs to change
The RSPCA is strongly opposed to all forms of slaughter that do not involve prior stunning of the animal.
The RSPCA is concerned there are much greater risks of an animal suffering during slaughter without stunning than for conventional slaughter. Slaughtering an animal while fully conscious requires additional handling and restraint and means that the animal will experience pain associated with the throat cut and subsequent bleeding out.
How are farm animals slaughtered in Australia, and should we be concerned? With Dr Bidda Jones from the RSPCA. Humane Food Podcast S2E8
What is the most humane way to handle animals prior to slaughter? With Leisha Hewitt. RSPCA Knowledgebase
How are animals stunned prior to slaughter? RSPCA Knowledgebase
What does the term humane killing or humane slaughter mean? RSPCA Knowledgebase
How are animals killed for food? RSPCA Knowledgebase
What is Halal slaughter in Australia? RSPCA Knowledgebase
What is Kosher slaughter in Australia? RSPCA Knowledgebase
Is religious slaughter legal in Australia?
It is the state/territory food authority that provides abattoirs with special permission to conduct slaughter without prior stunning. If you are opposed to slaughter without prior stunning, please contact the state/territory Minister for Agriculture in NSW, SA and VIC as well as the Federal Minister for Agriculture to make your views known.