An Inside Look at Slaughter Houses
An Animal Rights Article from


School essay
February 2004

Slaughterhouses have no right to be doing what they are doing. They perform every operation illegally. They don’t give the animals food, water, shelter, veterinary services, or humane treatment. There is a pile of violations on them and yet they still continue to break more laws. Then on top of that they cause pollution and a disturbance to their surrounding neighbors. For some reason they think that in their industry they are allowed to make their own rules and do business however they please.

A wise woman named Linda McCartney once said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone in the world would be a vegetarian.”

This is one of the truest statements ever made. If people thought about or saw what really happens to animals in slaughterhouses for more than a second, it would get to them and they would not be able to bring themselves to still be a carnivore. Those animals endure some of the cruelest treatment and neglect. Also, slaughterhouses are kept in the most unsanitary conditions and violate more laws then almost any other business. The slaughter of animals for human consumption should be banned.

First of all, the statistics show it would benefit land, animals’ lives, and the grain and food supply if we stopped eating meat. Each person consumes 230 pounds of animals each year. Together we consume 2.6 billion pounds of dairy cow a year. There has been an increase in the amount of animals we consume and how much grain it’s taking to feed them. Eight billion animals a year are slaughtered for food. [Ed. note: In 2002 the total was ten billion.]

The breakdown of each animal that is slaughtered is 38 million cows and calves, 95 million hogs, 5 million sheep and goats, 278 million turkeys, 20 million ducks, and over 7 billion chickens. The average cow should live 20 years but because they are not allowed to have a normal life and they are just raised to be slaughtered, the average life expectancy is 6 to 8 years, and sometimes even then the cows only live to 14 months. The amount of animals that are raised annually for slaughter is 30 times more then the total human population in the US, and more then the number of humans in the world.

Twenty years ago livestock consumed 6% of Mexico’s grain and today they consume nearly 50%, and in Canada 77% of their grain is used to raise livestock. If American countries alone would reduce their meat consumption by just 10% that would save enough grain to feed 60 million people. The reality is it takes 4 acres of land to feed a meat eater, but only 1/2 an acre or less to feed a vegetarian. On 1/2 an acre of land 10,000lbs of apples and 20,000lbs of potatoes can be grown successfully into food. Only 100lbs of beef can be raised on that. Over a lifetime, a vegetarian will save 21 cows, 14 sheep, 12 hogs, and 1400 chickens from being slaughtered. They will also save 1 acre of trees a year from being cut down.

Slaughterhouses shouldn’t be allowed to still be in operation. They have violated almost every restriction, law, and rule that has been placed on their industry. Almost everything added to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 1960 is being violated. It’s known that no matter what the animals condition is the butcher takes it into their own hands to make the most money possible. There are rules about loading and unloading that are broken every second. The animals are supposed to have space when they are transported but instead they are packed together like sardines.

There are rules about cruelty to animals such as no torturing or subjecting them to unnecessary pain and suffering, and no keeping them in cages that there is not sufficient room to go with their measurements. One of the biggest issues is that the animals are not supposed to be exposed to their own kind getting slaughtered, but they are constantly having to watch their own kind getting dragged mercilessly to their brutal death. It’s also against the law to slaughter animals below 6 months, pregnant animals, sick animals, and young animals who are supplying milk. A slaughterhouse in Texas had 22 violations during a period of 6 months. During one of those inspections there were 9 live cattle found dangling from an overhead chain. Yet this is how slaughterhouses operate over and over again each day. It doesn’t help that cases against them are usually not pursued because venturing deep into slaughterhouses is not an idea liked by officials. Transporting animals should be like transporting a human, each one having their own space and each one being reasonably taken care of.

However, if people were treated like the livestock while riding a bus or any other kind of transportation, many people would be facing serious charges. Just because it is abuse to an animal and not a human doesn’t mean any less should be done about it. Animals are packed and pressed together so close into vehicles that they can’t move and can barley breathe. A lot of times just in the process of loading the animals they will trample each other to death and blind one another with their horns. The law states that in that process they should have food, water, veterinary services, and protection from natural elements (wind, rain, fire, etc.). That is the care that any living thing should be entitled too. Those poor animals don’t ever get to see a drop of any of those things though. While getting an animal from a distant place into the city where they are loaded, the animals are sometimes made to run there.

No matter what the whether conditions are. Red chili powder is put in their eyes in order to force them to run faster. They are beaten and severely tortured just to accomplish getting them to a destination. Sometimes the drivers of the vehicles make fast turns and stops that causes the animals to get knocked around and injured. The animals fall on each other which causes suffocation and more broken bones. When it finally comes down to unloading the animals, the condition they are in is appalling. Half a million animals a year that arrive at slaughterhouses are dead or in unacceptable condition for slaughter. Other animals are half dead but are still just picked up and thrown down on the concrete. Many have broken limbs but are further injured when they are getting unloaded. The handlers don’t bother with kindness or care because they figure they are going to face the butchers knife anyway.

While keeping the animals before it’s their time to be slaughtered they endure a series of inhumane procedures and treatment. PETA described what they witnessed one morning at a slaughterhouse “By 10:00 a.m. there were already more than a dozen downed cattle. One bull kept trying to rise to his feet but could not. He struggled before collapsing under the scorching sun, blood oozing out of his nose; his legs and horns broken.” This is one example of what someone saw, but there are things that happen like that every day.

There is also a videotape that was secretly set up in an Iowa pork plant that caught live hogs squealing and kicking as they were being lowered into a tank of water. Unfortunately, there are things that are more unbelievable then that which happen and have not been caught on tape yet. However, even though it’s not captured on tape we do know some other things that happen in slaughterhouses. Some of the treatment includes the use of electric prods, castration with no anesthetic, branding and tail docking with no pain relief, and hot iron de-horning with no pain relief. The de-horning involves pressing scorching heat onto the calves horns for a full 30 seconds then repeating it on the other side for another 30 seconds. Also, de-beaking with no pain relief. For that they use hot glue guns or cigarette lighters to cut through bone, cartilage, and tissue of the birds. In a different part of the slaughter house there may be birds that are alive and dangling by their feet on metal hooks. Electricity stuns them as they roll on the line for the neck blade to come down and kill them. Other handling that the animals are subjected to is the hens are forced into a schedule that restricts their water for 2 weeks and cows are limited to 2 milkings a day, when they are supposed to have 6. The average life span of a hen is 16 years but with what they endure in slaughterhouses it’s shortened to 18 months. Roosters aren’t that lucky, they are gassed right away and their remains are sent to rendering plants. Others don’t get to be put out of their misery so fast.

There are animals that have their legs broken or hacked off so they can’t run away. Some animals who are incapacitated are left laying around for days, suffering much neglect. If they’re left laying outside long enough, a number of them freeze to death in the winter and fry to death in the summer. Many of the animals suffer the equivalent to that when they are dragged with chains and pushed with tractors, causing torn ligaments and broken bones.

The way in which the animals are slaughtered is tragic. The animals suffer copious amounts of pain and are sometimes alive and alert when they are being slaughtered. Every animal is supposed to be separated from others, be rendered unconscious, and then be slaughtered. They are not supposed to be dragged by their legs, ears, and horns. However, that usually is how it is done.

There are a few methods of slaughtering that are practiced, and not one is humane and how it’s supposed to be done. One is decapitating the animal. Another is the Halal method where the neck is slit in 2 1/2 spots while they are conscious and that forces them to bleed to death. In that case the animal is alive and aware that they are severely bleeding and they are in excruciating pain. Burying an animal’s head in the ground is not a common practice but it is still used. That way they are suffocated to death. One of the most mortifying ways of slaughtering is “sticking a long iron rod through the anal opening, through the body, and making it emerge through the mouth”.

All the while the animal, usually a pig, is squealing endlessly. Sometimes there is not even that much effort put into slaughtering the animal and they will just burn them to death. Cattle are many times stunned in the head with a steel bolt, their throats are slit, then they are left laying around to bleed to death. The bleeding method is used when they want the least damage to the carcass as possible. The animal is cut in a place where they will bleed the fastest. One man that has worked in a slaughterhouse says “They blink. They make noises. The head moves, the eyes are wide and looking around”. He watches animals die a slow and painful death everyday when the animals are perfectly alive and conscious. He also said, “Some would survive as far as the tail cutter, the belly ripper, and the hide puller. They die, piece by piece". Many animals do make it as far as being skinned when they are still living and feeling pain to the fullest.

Last of all, slaughterhouses do the least proficient job of cleaning up after animals are killed. It would be bad enough living near a slaughterhouse, but many neighbors say the worst thing is not the thought. They are constantly inhaling the nauseating stench each and every day. Neighbors also have entrails, skin, joints, and blood being dropped onto their property. Birds of prey get a hold of the barley disposed remains, fly away with them, then drop it on the near by people’s land. There are usually rivers of blood flowing around the slaughterhouses and sometimes make it as far as to where the neighbors can see or smell it. The bones are boiled on the slaughter house premise which causes them to create further pollution and stench. The skins are sitting around outside in piles, sometimes for long periods of time, waiting for the tanneries to come pick them up. In unsanitary towns the carcasses are transported around with out being frozen. The water flowing through slaughterhouses go through treatment tanks like public sewers and then they end up spilling into creeks and rivers, generating more pollution. A number of slaughter houses have been ordered to add more washers and thorouly clean up. The evidence shows that many have not followed that order because the swelling of the rivers have not gone down yet.

Slaughterhouses have no right to be doing what they are doing. They perform every operation illegally. They don’t give the animals food, water, shelter, veterinary services, or humane treatment. There is a pile of violations on them and yet they still continue to break more laws. Then on top of that they cause pollution and a disturbance to their surrounding neighbors. For some reason they think that in their industry they are allowed to make their own rules and do business however they please.

We need to show them that that’s not allowed by shutting them down right away.


  • “Improve treatment of slaughter animals or face tourist boycott.” 19 June 2000.
  • “Healthy Eating and Treatment of Animals.” 20 May 1997.
  • “Slaughter Houses.” 5 December 2000.
  • “Frequently asked(and not asked) Questions.” 8 August 2001.
  • “Go Veggie with Paul McCartney!” 24 September 1998.
  • Rahman, Maseeh. “Is Nothing Sacred?” Time International, 29 May 2000.
  • Electronic Library. Squalicum High School Library, Bellingham 13 December 2002.

Read more at Animal Rights Articles
Read more at The Meat and Dairy Industries