If slaughter houses had glass walls… With the power of social media, they do.
Sarah Hare

“I’m scared and don’t want to die” Cattle Behavior Explained

First of all, I don’t know where this video takes place. Secondly, the electric prod is highly frowned upon in the United States. Ever since the invention of the rattle paddle and application of plain common sense, from an animal behavior perspective, we can herd or work cattle without even touching them. We even have laws stating that use of the hot-shot has to be as minimal as possible. In this video it is grossly overused, so keep that in mind; usually an electric shock is NEVER used to get cattle to move in a slaughter plant. If you watch the animals you can clearly see how it doesn’t need to be used.

Video here

In the first part of the video, two things are apparent: the place they are going to go looks like a dark hole, and there is a person in between them and the dark hole. This tells me that this facility is either very old or pretty poorly designed. Feedlot(a set of outdoor pens where cattle are fed before slaughter) beef cattle are usually only around other cattle and always live outside, so it’s no surprise that they are at the opposite end of the pen from the dark and the person they can see. They have a natural aversion to dark places and wariness of people when they aren’t around them constantly. The cattle look toward the man to keep an eye on what he is doing. Many slaughter facilities today are designed to be bright to avoid stress on the animals, and so they can’t see the people.

The cattle are surprised by the loud noise of the door opening. We can’t see why the door makes so much noise here but this is minimized in today’s plants. One of the cattle is zapped with an electric prod and goes behind the door. We see the second steer(castrated male) jump again in surprise and back up when the captive bolt goes off to stun the first one. A moo is heard from somewhere else in the facility, followed by others. The second steer then tries to go forward again to see if he can look around, and then tries to turn around to go back where he came from. Since cattle are herd animals they want to be with other cows. Also, there are usually more cattle in the chute or being loaded into it so there is never really an animal left by itself.

Then the man with the prod comes back and the steer backs away from him all the way to the back of the alley, until the man gets behind him and starts to zap him to go to the door. Again, moving away from the person is his natural behavior response, so it would be expected that this would happen even without the hotshot usage. Once behind the door we can see the steer’s feet, then hear the bolt, and see him drop immediately and roll out of the chute; just like it’s supposed to go. The steer can’t feel anything more.

The animal “scream” sound edited into the video at the end makes a chilling but totally false effect, only intended to manipulate your emotions. Other than the gross misuse of the electric prod, the animals were not overly stressed or showing any major signs of distress. This is especially evidenced by the steer’s willingness to move up and down the alley when the person is not there. Today’s facilities are designed so that they can’t see people. Again I will reiterate that the electric prodding is not the way that animals are normally moved through large plants, and I am not condoning any of that which should not have happened, only explaining the cattle’s behavior.

Here is an example of how slaughter really works at a large beef plant.

If you are someone who doesn’t see it the way I see it and chooses to think that the animals are realizing they are about to be killed and trying to escape, I respect that, but hopefully this explains for you what is actually occurring in their outward behavior.

Originally published at lelper.tumblr.com on Feb. 13, 2015

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