Farm and pasture slaughtering for improved animal welfare

Media release May 28, 2020

Paddock with a raised platform

For pasture slaughtering, the farmer brings the animals with their familiar herd to a separate paddock with a raised platform, from where they can take aim at the animal to be slaughtered. Photo: Gabriela Müller

The Federal Council gives the green light for farm and pasture slaughter. Farmer associations and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, FiBL, welcome this decision in favour of animal welfare. This decision will enable the respectful and humane slaughtering of livestock. Pilot trials in Switzerland and abroad have shown that animals slaughtered on the farm are subjected to significantly less stress.

The revised Ordinance on Slaughter and Meat Inspection (VSFK) comes into force on 1.7.2020. This regulation will permit the stunning and bleeding of animals on-farm. This decision marks an important milestone in the ten years of preparatory work by the pioneer farms and the organic sector under the leadership of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, FiBL. This step was made possible by Lena and Caesar Bürgi, Nils Müller, National Councilor Martina Munz and National Councilor Karl Vogler, the Animal Rights Foundation, the Veterinary Office of the Canton of Zurich, Four Paws (Vier Pfoten) and the Vontobel Foundation. The farming associations, Bio Suisse, Demeter and KAGfreiland, welcome the Federal Council’s decision. They are promoting on-farm slaughter on their farms with various measures at the communication and project level.

Promising insights from the pioneers

The first pioneering farms are already using alternative slaughter methods, thanks to cantonal permits. The findings of these farms show that this form of slaughter is particularly animal friendly. The animal is stunned in its familiar environment and then bled. The carcass is then transported in a specially designed trailer. After death, the animal must be driven to an authorised slaughterhouse within 45 minutes of the farm and eviscerated there. Compared to conventional slaughtering, the animals are thus spared live transport and waiting times in the slaughterhouses. This has a positive effect on the stress levels of the animals, and therefore also on meat quality.

In Switzerland, the key pioneers are: Nils Müller and Claudia Wanger, Hof Zur Chalte Hose (Bio Suisse) with the grazing shot as well as Lena and Caesar Bürgi, Hof Silberdistel (Bio Suisse, Demeter) and Georg Blunier, Hof Dusch (Bio Suisse, Demeter, KAGfreiland) and now also Mischa Hofer (Platzhirsch Hofschlachtungen GmbH) with the farm slaughter.

The procedures will continue to require authorisation, which will be issued by the competent cantonal veterinary office. For the time being, these mobile systems will only be used in the cattle sector. In the future, on-farm slaughtering will be extended to other animal species such as small ruminants, pigs and poultry.

Animal husbandry is an important part of Swiss agriculture. The farmer associations, Bio Suisse, Demeter and KAGfreiland, guidelines promote animal welfare and ensure species-appropriate husbandry. FiBL produces a leaflet that gives interested farms an overview of the various farm slaughtering methods and practical tips. More detailed information can already be found on the website