Animal Aid filmed cows being slaughtered over three days in June 2009. Of all the ten slaughterhouses now filmed by Animal Aid, Pickstock was the only one that we did not film breaking animal welfare laws. That is not to say, however, that there was no suffering. Four cows – or 2.5 per cent of those we filmed – were shot in the head more than once with a captive bolt gun which is supposed to stun them immediately. For one frightened cow who ducked his head away from the slaughterer, the suffering was prolonged as the stun floored him but did not render him unconscious, and he suffered on the floor for 35 seconds before the slaughterer was able to suspend himself upside down and shoot him again.
Additionally, the staff would bring the gate that prevents cows from backing out of the stun box down on their backs deliberately in order to get them to move quicker. For one cow, this caused such panic that she struggled to regain her footing and ended up with her front hooves over the head shelf from where she was finally stunned.
What happened next?
The Meat Hygiene Service (now the Food Standards Agency) vet provided refresher training for the staff.