Quantifying avoidance-related behaviour and bleeding times of sheep of different ages, sex and breeds slaughtered at a municipal and a commercial abattoirs
The effect of abattoir type, age, sheep breed and sex on avoidance-related behaviour and bleeding times at slaughter were determined. Castrates and ewes of different age groups and breeds were used. From the commercial abattoir, 90 castrates and 110 ewes were used while 66 castrates and 19 ewes were obtained from the municipal abattoir. Avoidance-related behaviour and bleeding times differed with abattoir type and age classes. Animals slaughtered at the commercial abattoir were calmer and had shorter bleeding times (61 ± 1.16 s) than those slaughtered at the municipal abattoir which had a mean bleeding time of 74.2 ± 2.11 s. Older animals were calmer and had longer bleeding times (67.5 ± 1.82 s) than the younger animals which had a mean bleeding time of 61.6 ± 2.64 s. Avoidance-related behaviour also differed with breed and the sex of the animals with Merino and Dorper + Merino crosses being the calmer than the pure Dorper breed. About 95% of ewes were calmer than the castrates. It can be concluded that abattoir type, age, breed and sex have an effect on animal behaviour at slaughter. Only abattoir type and sex had an effect on bleeding times.
Keywords: Abattoir type, animal handling, bleeding processes, Dorper, Merino, stunning