Over some time, I have observed animals meant for slaughter being transported and treated in a manner that renders the quality of meat inappropriate and here is how …
Before transportation animals are procured and collected from the various farmers and taken for considerable distances while being beaten to speed up, loaded at a common place where they are forced through beating with huge sticks to make them enter the transporting lorry,
During transportation, there are no rest periods, animals are confined on a moving vehicle, with their heads and tails tied up on the lorry metal bars and horns awkwardly pointing out through openings in the metal bars of the truck, the space allowance between animals is very little and there is the friction of these animals against each other or the body of the lorry, besides, these animals are deprived of food and water for the period they are in transit, In some cases animals are visibly heavily pregnant, emaciated, injured or, diseased.
While there are several animal checkpoints especially as one enters Kampala city, seemingly these checkpoints are either dodged or compromised, on arrival at the abattoir some animals are visibly dehydrated and can rarely stand up on their own, at that point they are immediately wrestled down and slaughtered.
Research shows that stress among livestock meant for slaughter has an influence on the quality of meat as regards to its tenderness, its shelf life and the colour. The scientific basis for this phenomenon is well established and it’s frequently been discussed as a reason to make slaughterhouses practices more humane.
The animal cruelty act of 1957 and the world organization for animal health for which Uganda is a member, have well-developed animal welfare standards for slaughter and transportation of terrestrial and aquatic animals but they haven’t been strictly enforced.
Concerns about pre and post abattoir handling of animals appear to be steadily gaining popularity and increasing in exposure the world over, for example, abattoir practices such as Yulin dog festival in Guangxi, China, where dogs are tortured and burned alive before they are slaughtered have elicited large-scale international attention and condemnation for the inhumane treatment of dogs during slaughter.
Animal transport and slaughter as an important component of agribusiness needs to be developed, the following initiatives could be useful,
- Decentralization of the slaughtering houses from the capital city to other upcountry regions where the animals originate from, so that only ready meat is transported using cold chain vehicles to the capital city and other areas, this will be economically efficient because one truck can carry twenty tones of meat equivalent to one hundred and fifty cows as opposed to the same truck transporting twenty c live cows worth three tones of meat. This will not only reduce the cost of meat but also improve its quality.
- Ensure efficient and comprehensive consumer protection requirements that focus on both proper sanitary conditions in abattoir operations and the handling of live animals at the pre-abattoir and of the meat produced at the post-abattoir stage. closing down of inefficient and unhygienic small slaughterhouses and concentrating resources (both financial and human) on fewer but good standard abattoirs would be a rational move towards ensuring good practices in existing slaughter houses
- Build Capacity in Good Hygiene Practices and sanitary control of meat produced and how it’s transported to different butchers and also ensure that there are stringent measures on Liquid wastes that are typically discharged untreated to drains and local watercourses irrespective of other water users downstream.
- Transport vehicles should be fitted with portable ramps to facilitate emergency offloading in case of prolonged breakdown; Animals should be moved during the cooler times of the day to reduce heat stress and mortality during transportation.
The writer is a concerned peasant farmer. email@example.com