for animal welfare founded on scientific standards of evaluation mean for
many of the regulated welfare concerns, e.g. the keeping and
transportation of animals, a necessity to clarify individual scientific
and subject-specific issues. This clarification is a precondition for a
continued reform of animal welfare.
applies in particular to the third section of the TierSchG, which deals
with the killing of animals. The provisions of this section are further
directly connected to the law on slaughter, which thus assumes the legal
position of a special legislative part of the Animal Welfare Act. This
fundamental integration of the law on slaughter within the Animal Welfare
Act has been explicitly confirmed by a vote of the Council of Federal
States dated 25 October 1963. At that time the Council of Federal States
refused to authorise the draft of a Third Directive on the Modification of
the Directive on the slaughter of animals by the Federal secretary of
state for Nutrition, Agriculture and Forestry (BML) giving the following
regulations of the Law on slaughter (Act and directions on implementation
on the slaughter of animals dated 21 April 1933) are to be seen in their
totality as part of the topic "Animal Welfare”, which is to be seen as an
independent and complete legal matter in the meaning of the decision of
the Federal Constitutional Court dated 11 May 1955 (BverfGE 4, 128-184).”
The Law on slaughter is therefore an integrated part of the Animal Welfare
Act and included in the general reform of the Animal Welfare Act demanded
by parliament and the public.
to article 4, para. 1 TierSchG a vertebrate must only be killed after
being stunned or otherwise, where reasonable under the given
circumstances, without afflicting pain. Where the killing of a vertebrate
is permitted without stunning, e.g. due to other legislation, the killing
must only be carried out with no more than the inevitable pain. This
binding general provision of the TierSchG must equally be the basis of the
reformed Law on slaughter.
regard to the slaughter of hot-blooded vertebrates the task of a
scientific clarification of the processes during stunning and killing
becomes paramount here. In other words: a full-scope scientific
investigation of existing ideas of the start, course and extent of the
reduction of perceptiveness and the sensitivity to pain including its
expiration. This means: clarity about the relation between "stunning and
killing”. The term "consciousness” should be avoided.
animal welfare rights perspective "stunning” here means a measure which
moves the animal to be slaughtered as quickly as possible and without fear
into a condition of complete loss of sensitivity and perception; the time
factor does play an important role here. This is followed by the killing,
normally by way of bloodletting, which transforms the animal to be
slaughtered into a carcass.
Investigations of the effectiveness of stunning an animal to be
slaughtered must in today’s understanding be based on the possibility of
measuring pain reactions. There are a number of publications on the
various methods of stunning animals for slaughter. However, their
conclusions are so far predominantly based on subjective methods of
evaluation and contain little scientific evidence.
critical essays on the effectiveness of current methods of stunning
animals for slaughter are on the increase (Cantieni, 1977; Scheper, 1977).
In the Netherlands a committee (De Studiecommissie Bedwelming
Slachtdieren) was established for the same reason in 1975, and its most
important task is to advice the government on reliable methods of stunning
animals for slaughter with regard to animal welfare.
ruminants the captive bolt stunning device is the usual stunning device.
In recent decades it has been accepted for use all over the world. Whereas
this device has been recognised legally for stunning animals for slaughter
– nationally and internationally – only very few experimental works on
this method have been published to date. A particular cause for a careful
evaluation is not at least the information by Arlt (1971) that 3 of 9
patients (suicide attempt) remained conscious for longer periods of time
in spite of severe penetrating brain injuries after a bolt shot in the
frontal and temporal regions.
animals, here specifically with regard to the slaughterhouse situation, a
loss of sensitivity and perception (stunning) can only be assumed when the
animal lies completely without movement after the respective measure and
does not show any reaction to given pain stimuli. On the other hand, we
know from daily experience that captive bolt stunning, in its various
applications, can lead to different reactions. A knowledge and observation
of the necessary strength of the physical force applied in order to have
the required mechanical effect on the brain seems equally important here
as the point of application and direction of application of the bolt.
There are hardly any experiments available for the purpose of ensuring a
definite stunning of the animal to be slaughtered.
preparatory considerations for the restructuring of the slaughter
legislation for cows, calves and sheep also had to include the slaughter
of these animals in accordance with religiously mandated regulations
without prior "stunning” (so-called ritual slaughter). Since long,
factual, legal, and ethical issues confront each other inextricably in
this matter. The opposition to a stunning-free slaughter has a long
history. For example, the executive committee of the Federation of Animal
Welfare Associations petitioned the Imperial German Parliament already in
1895 to proscribe the stunning-free slaughter. In 1910, 612 German
slaughterhouse veterinarians and 41 German veterinary associations
described stunning-free slaughter as cruelty to animals in a declaration
to the Imperial German Parliament and demanded a legal prohibition. Even
before, in 1901, 441 out of 463 experts described the stunning-free
slaughter as contrary to animal welfare in a questionnaire aimed at all
veterinarians as well as university lecturers at veterinary colleges and
professors of physiology in the then German Empire (Spitaler, A., 1965).
Representatives of animal welfare present the same opinion today not only
nationally, but also internationally. For example, the representatives of
the World Animal Welfare Association and the International Society for
Animal Welfare participating as observers in the deliberations of the
"Animal Protection” Committee of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg for
the creation of a "European Agreement on Animal Welfare during Slaughter”
stated the following, amongst other things, about their strict opposition
of slaughter of ruminants in accordance with religious regulations (ritual
cutting): Ritual slaughter as such means considerable pain for the
animals. Further: The connection between the central and the peripheral
nervous systems is not severed by the ritual cut; in addition the
vertebral artery remains intact, which results in bovine animals in the
brain continuing to a degree to be supplied with blood. And: As brain
impulses (electroencephalogram) and the capability of coordinated movement
can still be observed some time after the ritual cut, it must be assumed
that the sensation of pain also continues for some time. These
considerations were presented by the observers mentioned as the result of
a discussion with scientific experts in veterinary medicine at the
university Munich in November 1996 (Council of Europe, Committee of
Experts on the Protection of Animals, 1976).
Representations of this kind have long been challenged by
equally thorough studies and observations of other established experts.
For example, Bongart (1927) pointed out on the basis of very extensive
studies on the ritual slaughter of calves carried out with his colleagues
Hock, Muchlinsky and Schellner, that where ritual slaughter has been
carried out properly on animals, the "resistance movements” observed could
no longer be interpreted as signs of consciousness and sensation of pain.
He reaches the conclusion with regard to calves that no cruelty to animals
of whatever kind can be found in the application of the ritual slaughter
method. As an example of a similar view of more recent years the
representations of Spoerri (1964) on the topic "Animal welfare and ritual
slaughter” can be cited. He reached the conviction on the basis of
observations on some 50 ritually slaughtered animals, as well as related
experiments on rabbits, sheep, goat, and cows under laboratory conditions,
that the ritual slaughter of animals did not cause any or at least no more
pain than killing after captive bolt, electric or CO2 stunning.
The studies of Levinger (1976) are of a similar nature.
Schultze-Petzold (1973) characterises the scientific debate of
these issues during a lecture on the imminent creation of a European
Agreement on the Welfare of Animals in the Committee "Animal Protection”
of the Council of Europe as follows: Those familiar with the national and
international literature on this problem must note that the problem of
causing and sensing pain and the elimination of "consciousness” and its
criteria already existed before the turn of the century with regard to the
slaughter methods at the centre of the evidence and counter-evidence of
the cruelty of animals assumed in this case – with the exception of the
issue of laying down the animal to be slaughtered, which today seems
resolved by using the hydraulic tilting equipment. All these
considerations and attempted experiments last carried out comprehensively
by veterinary medicine some 40 years ago are only more or less
hypothetical in their conclusions.
example they are not or only insufficiently able to make any statements on
the kind and intensity of the brain function linked to consciousness. This
is, of course, mostly due to the inadequacy of methodological
possibilities at the time. Practically we are today, when tackling the
reform of the Law on slaughter, still faced with a situation that with
regard to the beginning and extent of the loss of perception and
sensitivity and the stimulation of sensing pain and its discontinuation,
whether using captive bolt stunning or ritual slaughter, there is no
scientifically secure evidence available. The precondition of such
generally valid evidence is comparative studies aiming at the
objectification and measurability of pain and consciousness processes.
This is furthermore a highly topical issue in general medicine, as it
comes close to the question of where life ends and death begins. One need
only refer to the discussion on the timing of the right to remove organs
for human transplantation.
research of human medicine into the physiology of the senses has in this
respect turned intensively to modern methodological possibilities of
discovery and has since developed these into a useful objectification of
these questions. Here the electroencephalogram (EEG) most certainly plays
a key role.
the question for the Federal ministry of nutrition, agriculture and
forestry (BML) when starting work on the reform of the Law of slaughter:
Should it not be possible, after an adjustment for the various models of
animals for slaughter, to find ways through this kind of method to reach
within a reasonable time a scientifically sound and predominantly
objective statement on the processes relevant for animal welfare during
conventional as well as ritual slaughter of hot-blooded
and 1973 the BML discussed this theoretical approach for a scientific
clarification of the issues at stake during talks with representatives of
the Rabbinical Conference and the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and
the spiritual management of Muslim refugees in the Federal Republic of
Germany, respectively. At the same time the religiously mandated factors
applying to the ritual slaughter were clarified with these religious
communities. It was made clear that the respective religiously mandated
provisions of both religions continue to be binding for their members. As
this conclusion has until recently been repeatedly questioned with regard
to the members of the Islamic faith in the Federal Republic of Germany, a
statement on the topic by the Turkish Government representative in the
Committee "Animal Protection” of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, during
the creation of the above-mentioned European Agreement on Animal Welfare
during slaughter is partly quoted here: Turkey investigated the
possibility of the electric stunning of animals for slaughter. It must be
noted that this procedure violates the expectations of the Turkish people
as well as the rules of the Muslim faith (Council of Europe, Committee of
Experts on the Protection of Animals, 1976).
this preliminary work the BML asked experts of the various branches of
learning mentioned in a meeting in early 1974 to present their experiences
and ideas. Both the general discovery of the physiology of the senses
relevant to this matter as well as all potential methodological
possibilities were discussed, not least with regard to their adaptation to
the models of animals for slaughter cow, calf, sheep and any necessary
initial experiments. The discussion was guided by the following
1. What do
we know and what can be measured using instruments?
2. What do
we not yet know or do not know sufficiently?
can be made measurable using instruments?
not merely concern the "ritual slaughter” complex, but also the
scientifically proven definition of the term "stunning” during captive
bolt stunning. It needs to be established whether the captive bolt does
with the respective animals to be slaughtered definitely cause a Commotio
cerebri which only leads to "unconsciousness” after shaking the limbic
system. Otherwise the captive bolt method would only cause a Contusio in
these animals to be slaughtered, which generally would only lead to a
Aim of the
expert consultation was mainly an answer to the question: Does the current
state of methodology permit the experimental study of the pertaining
scientific questions in principle?
minutes of this expert meeting on 7-9 February 1974 at the BML contain the
following summary of results: The experts discussed the anatomical,
physiological and clinical issues in depth with regard to the current
methodological possibilities. Special emphasis was given to the
species-specific variations and the comparability to analogous human
experiences. The experts mainly agree that, especially due to the
different anatomical starting conditions for the animal species under
consideration, a principal comparability must not be assumed from the
outset. This also applies to the respective age categories (e.g.
calf/cow). Relevant research is being advocated. When investigating the
methodological possibilities, the key candidates are: EEG, blood pressure
and brain pressure measurements, angiography, reflex studies, and
functional investigations of the adrenocortis. During initial experiments
measurements should be as extensive as possible, in order to reveal
unidentifiable correlations. During questioning the experts appeared to
place special emphasis on the factor "time/pain”, as for a future
legislative regulation both terms are of equal importance. Initially
investigations using EEG together with electrocardiagram (ECG) and blood
pressure and reflex measurements appear promising, followed by checking
the adrenocortial function (adrenalin corticosteroid discharge) with
horizontal catheter (BML – AZ. 321 – 2971.4 – 60/73).
the decision of the expert group the BML issued on 1st July
1974 a research brief on the topic "Objectification of pain and
consciousness in the context of conventional and ritual slaughter of
ruminants (initially sheep and calves)” to Prof Dr W Schulze, director of
the Clinic for small clawed animals and forensic medicine and mobile
clinic of the veterinary university of Hanover. Within the research work
of that clinic religious, physiological, and technical issues of ritual
slaughter had been dealt with in a comprehensive study since the time of
research brief issued by the BML demanded a gradual development of the
studies. The mastery of electrode technology and electrode implantation
for the animal species concerned, the mastery of external electricity by
building a Faraday cage for the experiments, and the preliminary
experiments on rabbits must be mentioned as the first significant steps of
the study. The individual work approaches required for this have since
been published (Weber, 1975; Freesemann, 1976, and Gross,
1977 the Clinic for small clawed animals and forensic medicine and mobile
clinic of the veterinary university of Hanover published a short report on
this research brief (Hazem, A.S., Gross, R., Schulze, W.,
documents reveal the following: The investigations carried out aimed at
providing objective data for the evaluation of ritual slaughter from an
animal welfare legislation point of view. As part of the research project
the effectiveness of captive bolt stunning was first analysed using EEG.
Comparable data about the ritual slaughter were then gained using the same
method of deduction and evaluation. The ritual cut experiments were
carried out on 17 sheep of the breed "black headed meat sheep” and 15
calves of various breeds. To further investigate the occurrence of low
frequency potentials in sheep stunned by captive bolt followed by a
bloodletting cut, six sheep were stunned in a second phase of the
experiment by captive bolt and then bled at various intervals.
approach of these studies can be summarised as follows:
Experiments for measuring the heart frequency and brain
activity during slaughter conditions were carried out on 23 sheep and 15
calves. After implanting permanent electrodes into the Os frontale the
cerebral cortex impulses were measured for 17 sheep and 10 calves during
ritual slaughter and for 6 sheep and 5 calves during captive bolt
application with subsequent bloodletting. Some sheep were additionally
subjected to thermal pain stimuli after the ritual cut.
investigations had the following results:
slaughter by ritual cut:
the bloodletting cut the EEG initially is the same as the EEG before the
cut. There is a high probability that the loss of reaction took place
within 4 – 6 seconds for sheep and within 10 seconds for
zero line in the EEG was recorded no later than after 13 seconds for 17
sheep and no later than 23 seconds for 7 calves.
pain stimuli did not cause an increase in activity.
the cut the heart frequency rose for calves within 40 seconds to 240 heart
actions per minute and for sheep within 40 seconds to 280 heart actions
slaughter after captive bolt application:
captive bolt stunning all animals displayed most severe general
disturbances (waves of 1-2 Hz) in the EEG, which almost with certainty
eliminates a sense of pain.
zero line in the EEG was reached for 4 calves after 28 seconds.
3. For two
sheep the cerebral cortex activity only stopped in one half of the brain,
whilst it continued in the other in the –region (up to 3.5 Hz) until the
bloodletting cut resulted for all animals in a brain activity (e and d
pain stimuli caused an increase in activity in one sheep.
heart frequency rose directly after stunning to values above 300 actions
the following conclusions are possible:
Slaughter after captive bolt stunning
captive bolt stunning most severe general disturbances (waves of 1-2 Hz)
occurred in the EEG, which almost with certainty eliminates a sense of
disturbances were also seen in sheep, but besides the somewhat higher
frequency there are still clearly superimposed waves. For one animal waves
could be recorded after pain stimuli until after the 200th
second. Apparent cramps were registered for all sheep with the exception
of one animal.
Slaughter in the form of ritual cut
bloodletting cut loss of reaction (loss of consciousness) occurred with
high probability within 10 seconds. A clear reaction to the cut could not
be detected in any animal. For 7 animals a zero EEG was recorded no later
than after 23 seconds. Cramps occurred in the animals regularly only after
the brain currents had stopped.
bloodletting cut loss of reaction (loss of consciousness) occurred after
10 seconds the latest. A clear reaction to the cut could not be detected
in any animal. The zero line was recorded no later than 14 seconds after
the cut. Cramps only occurred after the zero line had been detected and
were much shorter than after captive bolt stunning.
slaughter in the form of ritual cut is, if carried out properly, painless
in sheep and calves according to the EEG recordings and the missing
experiments with captive bolt stunning no indications could be found for
proscribing this method for calves.
however, there were in parts severe reactions both to the bloodletting cut
and the pain stimuli. A proof of the reliable effectiveness of captive
bolt stunning could not be provided using the methods applied.
first experiments carried out under clinical conditions and the insights
for the correlations of sensory physiology during stunning/slaughter of
small ruminants initially lead to the following factual and legal
considerations for the preparation of legislation:
experiments on sheep and calves carried out within a clinic show that
during a ritual slaughter, carried out according to the state of the art
using hydraulically operated tilting equipment and a ritual cut, pain and
suffering to the extent as has since long been generally associated in
public with this kind of slaughter cannot be registered; the ritual
slaughter carried out under these experimental conditions complies with
the requirements of article 4 para. 1 TierSchG. The EEG zero line – as a
certain sign of the expiration of cerebral cortex activity and according
to today’s state of knowledge also of consciousness – occurred generally
within considerably less time than during the slaughter method after
captive bolt stunning.
dispute that any slaughter of animals is an aesthetically loaded process.
Thus the wide-spread emotional resistance to kill an animal, which has not
been stunned, by cutting the throat, is understandable. Certainly the
psychological argument for stunning the animal to be slaughtered must be
considered to some degree for the person carrying out the slaughter or
consuming the meat of these animals. Whether these initial findings of
objective data on the processes of "consciousness/pain” made possible by
the research brief are sufficient to somewhat alter existing opinions in
the sense of the scientific orientation of animal welfare as demanded by
the TierSchG, remains to be seen. They need to be followed as a high
priority by further investigations in the continuation of the scientific
clarification of the issues of loss of pain and consciousness during
slaughter of this kind with and without stunning using the same
experimental approach with a representative number of grown cows of
various breeds. A new research brief is already due to be issued to a
different scientific institute.
objective results presented for the captive bolt application in sheep show
that here a satisfactory prevention of pain could not be proven with
clinical methods; rather it indicates that the captive bolt device used is
suspect. Therefore, research work in this field is also urgently required.
This must be concerned with achieving an appropriate standardisation of
the charge size, to ensure the rapid loss of perception and sensation in
animals of different kinds and sizes. Similarly, the optimal dimension of
the captive bolt must be found and finally the best shooting position and
direction during application of the captive bolt device for the respective
type of animal for slaughter. This must be based on the experience that
the results gained for one species cannot simply be transferred to
another. Further a subsequent regulation of the official approval for
stunning devices, the methods of application after scientific review and a
regular notification of approved devices must already be considered, as
must a regular official audit of approved devices used for stunning. An
appropriate training of the personnel concerned is also
whole the insights into responses of the cerebral cortex to invasion and
interference with the organism of an animal for slaughter gained through
the existing research brief should also give rise to placing the research
of sensory physiology in animals increasingly in the centre of veterinary
medicinal research. Why should the measurable brain functions not also be
given particular relevance during diagnostics!
few thoughts on the relevance of new scientific findings for existing
scientific findings – and the results presented are only a very first
contribution – which show that the ritual cut causes a very rapid loss of
consciousness have an immediate bearing only if the practice "ritual
slaughter” comes under the heading of "causing pain” (articles 1 and 4
para. 1 TierSchG).
not affect the requirement for stunning contained in article 4 para 1
TierSchG and the Law on slaughter of 1933 – with the exception of the
religious slaughter/ritual cut protected as part of the freedom of
religious practice by the higher-order constitutional law. New findings of
this kind may make the original considerations on this issue for including
the requirement of stunning into the above-mentioned laws appear
irrelevant. As laws do, however, remain in force irrespective of the
causes which lead to their enactment, such findings are to this extent
however, be considered separately to what degree and in which way such
findings should be considered during the restructuring of the Law on
applies with regard to the stunning requirement demanded in the directive
of the Council of European Communities dated 18 November 1974 on the
stunning of animals prior to slaughter (1974). Here too, new scientific
findings can only give rise to deliberations, whether such an instruction
is – or maybe continues – to be factually justified, but they cannot
question the validity of this instruction. New findings must, therefore,
be left out of the consideration to what extent the national Law of
Slaughter meets the demands of the above-mentioned directive. They can
only be relevant when determining the special cases in article 3 of the
above-mentioned EC directive, as the religiously mandated ritual
slaughter/ritual cut included as an "exemption” should be re-evaluated
against the background of legal reasoning.