What are your slaughtering practices? Are the animals treated humanely?
Thank you for caring enough to ask about our slaughtering practices.
They are different for the different animals. Here goes:
1. Rabbit--quick blow just behind the ears to create concussion and then slit jugular. Rabbits bite, so we have to get them immobilized and still in order to slit the jugular safely.
2. Poultry--place head first in a cone and slit jugular, keeping windpipe unsevered. This allows the autonomic nervous system to continue functioning and pump the blood out rather than draining--results in cleaner bleed internally. The bird gets lightheaded similar to when you put your head down toward the ground and then suddenly stand up. This technique is essentially Halal and Kosher technique and has been practiced expertly for millenia.
3. Hogs--they walk into a chute one at a time and a handheld wand using a .22 caliber shell to power a 1-inch bolt is placed against the skull right between the eyes. When the trigger is depressed, the bolt comes out, enters the brain, and stuns the animal. Then we slit the jugular and the heart pumps the blood out similar to the chickens.
4. Beef--two methods, and either one works fine. One is the same instrument used for the hogs, and same technique. The other is a simple .22 caliber bullet between the eyes to stun the animal, and then we slit the jugular.
Perhaps the key to all of this is that none of our slaughtering is done with such speed that animals are defeathered or skinned while still alive, like happens routinely in large industrial plants. When you're small, doing things one at a time, everything can be monitored better. It has to be because we're working by hand and not with big hydraulic machines that can override thrashing about. Our safety is a key consideration.
We use no electrocution or gassing. I think it's also important to mention that we do not slaughter every day, nor do the slaughterhouses we use for pork and beef do it every day. We think it's unhealthy for a person to kill every single day, day after day, like they do in the large warehouse slaughter plants. For psychological stability, you need a break from this, and at Polyface we want to be mindful of that with all of our processing. That means instead of having a crew stationed at the same spot every day, we want a more eclectic blend of skills so people can be moved around to different processes to rest their spirits and diversify muscles used.
I hope this answers your questions. We welcome you to come and see it and/or to ask more questions.