MAFF EXPERIMENTS DURING FMD 2001
Report by Nick Green 22.04/02
In April 2001, the Animal Welfare Minister Elliot Morley MP, an ex head of a special needs school, set up an Animal Welfare Consultative Committee to discuss animal welfare concerns arising from the crisis. Members were drawn from the Humane Slaughter Association, RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming. The HAS reported that there had been welfare problems on certain sites and that there is a need for more comprehensive guidelines to be available for organising large scale culls. How very nice of Mr Morley to take such personal interest in our animals. As Animal Welfare Minister I can therefore presume Mr Morley that the buck stops with you and you will be happy to answer any charges levied at MAFF/DEFRA in respect of inhumane animal welfare.
The Welfare of Animals (slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, (WASK) makes it an offence for anyone stunning, slaughtering or killing animals for the purpose of disease to cause any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering.
I have recorded some extracts at Annex A.
It is particularly worth noting that MAFF/DEFRA has broken virtually all of these regulations during FMD 2001.
Two illegal slaughter experiments were conducted during FMD 2001. Morley was responsible, as Animal Welfare Minister for these operations.
1. Current captive-bolt equipment is not designed for small animals. It is illegal. MAFF/DEFRA used captive bolt guns to cull infant lambs at Great Orton and elsewhere. Not all TVI`s allowed this illegal practice but some did. The results of this procedure were horrific. The lamb was rarely killed outright and its final demise was brought about after several attempts at extinguishing the animal. Eyewitness reports of lambs writhing in agony on the floor during slaughter. MAFF, under orders of Morley, then introduced the Accles and Shelvoke poultry stunner to lend a hand. During the FMD crisis, technical staff had the opportunity to trial this hideous equipment to see the effect on infant lambs. The trial was a disaster. The HASA admitted That work now need to be done to discover why these small animals show more post-stun reflex movements than adults and, if possible, to overcome the problem so that the method is acceptable for on-farm use. This post stun movement was unpleasant to watch and certainly disturbed operators involved in its use.
2. An electrical stun/kill equipment was imported from Germany by DEFRA under the orders of Morley in the early part of the FMD crisis. The HAS was asked to test the suitability of this equipment at one of the large sheep culls later in the summer, and during the filming on some of the other sites. This equipment was used on 28 March at Boughton, Northamptonshire just behind a primary school. 600 ewes and 1,000 infant lambs were slaughtered by MAFF just because the farmer had introduced some bought in ewes. Tests were apparently negative. No big surprise there then. The lambs were killed illegally by intra-cardiac injection (no sedative). There was also a team of VO`s from MAFF HQ who were testing an electrical stunning and killing equipment on some of the ewes. It was noted by HAS that at times in the crisis (not at Boughton) That too many times in the crisis we heard of sheep being penned in large numbers (sometimes in excess of 50) resulting in some being missed by the slaughter men and some recovering their breathing reflex because they had not been pithed.
OTHER HSA OBSERVATIONS
A cull in Chepstow on 11 April was carried out in appalling conditions. Large batches (40-50) lambs and ewes together in a barn were shot by slaughter men in the top of the head with .22 rifles. During this procedure the live animals tended to pile on top of the dead ones and some of the lambs became buried under these heaps. Consequently a small number of lambs were missed by the riflemen and remained alive until uncovered during removal of the carcasses. This procedure changed later during the cull.
The risk of over-penetration and bullets exiting the carcass created safety implications. The slaughter team were reluctant to change their methods. The Incident Commander was reluctant to ask the riflemen to change their method In case they took offence and left the site..
This was not an isolated incident. HASA staff witnessed Incident Commanders and TVI`s being influenced by the attitudes and behaviour of slaughter men and stockmen on a number of occasions, sometimes to the detriment of animal welfare.
When the HAS & RSPCA visited this killing site they witnessed satisfactory procedures. However eyewitnesses tell a different tale.
During the Gt. Orton Trial witnesses stated:-
Poorly organised. Weapons left lying around. A shortage of vets on site to oversee the killing.
The sheep seemed to have great survival instincts. Those that were alive and witnessing the killing of their forerunners, were trying to bury themselves under the bodies of recently killed animals.
It was hard to imagine anything more stressful for the slaughter men; the noise, the appalling smell on site.
Some workers only lasted a day, it was so horrific.
All the above statements were made under oath.
600 ewes an hour were being killed. One every six seconds.
PART OF A STATEMENT OF WITNESS TO THE RSPCA
The first killing began with 78 ewes in a pen. Both men got into the pen and moved amongst them using captive bolts to kill the sheep. When the procedure began the sheep panicked. The procedure was appalling; some sheep were not killed straight away and were sat on their haunches eyes rolling, others flipped backwards clearly not dead. Others were trapped under shot sheep. Some were shot again to kill them. This took about half an hour but even then some were still alive. The bearded man went round poking them in the eye to look for signs of life and cut the throats of ewes he found alive. I then moved down to my farm to pen 184 weaned lambs and others. One slaughter man said These lambs are taking a bit of killing. There were 2 piles of bodies. In the second pile there were some sheep and lambs still alive. Most had had their throats cut as there was blood everywhere. They seemed to be drowning in their own blood. Others were shot and clearly not dead. I saw sheep that had been shot 20 minutes earlier that were still alive and thrashing about.
There are many other accounts of MAFF/DEFRA atrocities. I have witnessed many. The fact that DEFRA representatives stated at the EU inquiry There were no animal welfare problems. is simply a lie. But we have become accustomed to HMG/DEFRA lying havent we? This will come as no surprise to anyone.
ANNEX A. WASK.
In addition you are not allowed to carry out these activities unless you have the necessary knowledge and skill to perform these tasks humanely and efficiently.
When engaged as part of a slaughter team you must:
7 Ensure your licence is up to date. Only undertake those activities that you are licensed to perform. Carry your MHS licence card with you
7 If you are using free bullet weapons or shotguns you must hold the relevant firearms and/or shotgun certificate. You will be asked to produce it
7 Provisional licence holders must only work under the supervision of fully licensed slaughtermen
7 Ensure you follow all necessary Health and Safety guidance
7 Ensure that sufficient protective clothing is worn and any skin cuts or punctures are treated immediately.
It is very important to remember that a captive bolt instrument is designed to stun and is not guaranteed to kill the animal. Although death may occur in some animals there is a risk that it may recover consciousness some time after the blow. This is why it is a legal requirement to pith or bleed the animal without delay after stunning, to ensure that it is killed.
To identify an effective stun always check for the following:
7 animal collapses
7 no rhythmic breathing
7 fixed, glazed expression
7 no corneal reflex
7 relaxed jaw
7 tongue hanging out
7 if there is any doubt about an effective stun, re-stun the animal, but never in the same place
7 in a disease control situation pithing must be the first choice and the animal should only be bled if no other option is available
7 For effective stunning animals should be restrained as far as possible to improve stunning accuracy.
7 If possible sedate the animal first. It is much easier to stun and kill when recumbent
7 Confine unsedated animals behind a gate and ensure sufficient room to drop the animal
7 Groups of unsedated animals should be handled through a suitable crush and slaughter crate
7 Use specialist-handling equipment if available.
7 Keep stocking density low (10-15 per pen)
7 Enough space for you to work comfortably, not too much space to make catching difficult
7 Work in teams, stunning and pithing the entire group before moving on.
7 Lambs at foot should be killed by lethal injection - DO NOT USE CAPTIVE BOLT
7 Apply the same basic principles to pigs as to sheep.
7 Sucking piglets should be killed by lethal injection - DO NOT USE CAPTIVE BOLT
ENSURE ALL ANIMALS ARE DEAD BEFORE MOVING ON
There should be sufficient stunners available should instruments fail. Bear in mind there will be little time to maintain/repair stunners on site.
Because of the extra wear and tear put on the instruments, due to heavier loads and continued outside use, good maintenance is essential. The instruments must be stripped and cleaned at the end of each day. Any parts showing wear must be replaced immediately. With intensive use it may be necessary to service instruments more often. The team leader must ensure that a good supply of correct cartridges and spare parts are kept available at all times.