Investigation of Kosher Deer Slaughterhouse
Dr. Grandin, a leading expert on farmed animal welfare and humane slaughter systems (including for kosher slaughter), was quoted in a Failed Messiah post as saying, "[T]here are some definite problems with the restrainer and procedures. The collapse time was really slow due to a poor cut. ... There is not enough space for a good cut. ... The third deer was definitely not fully insensible when it was pulled out of the restrainer by its ears." Dr. Grandin advises that Musicon should do all the following in order to ensure humane treatment of animals:
Better clearance for the rabbi’s knife.
A neck and back holder so a person does not have to kneel on the back of the animals.
Do not hold the head in position by holding the ears.
Never use the ears to move a sensible animal.
Design change may be needed to reduce struggling in the box. I could not see how the restrainer and leading chute was constructed in the rear.
The deer must be fully insensible before it is dragged out of the box.
Making these changes will improve the rapid collapse time.
All this is, of course, pretty upsetting, but there are three things here that seem particularly troubling:
1. Because deer are wild animals, they are not protected under the Humane Slaughter Act. No matter how abusive their treatment is, it's not illegal under federal law.
2. In a recent period prior to the investigation, 18 out of 25 (72 percent) deer slaughtered at Musicon were apparently deemed traif. This means that, for that period at least, the vast majority of deer shechted then can't even be served to kosher consumers, which seems to defeat the purpose of subjecting them to shechita. (One heebnvegan reader recently showed me commentary by Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz that says that about 70 percent of shechted animals aren't deemed kosher and up to 95 percent of shechted animals aren't deemed glatt kosher.)
3. In the big picture, this investigation reveals the unwillingness or inability of kosher certification agencies (e.g., the Orthodox Union) to prevent tza'ar ba'alei chayim (unnecessary animal suffering) in kosher slaughterhouses. "Here we have another example of animal abuse and rabbis stand by and apparently do nothing," noted Failed Messiah's Shmarya Rosenberg in a comment following his blog post. In response to a criticism of this issue because it was brought to light by PETA, another commenter wrote, "[S]how me a Jewish group that is doing the same job exposing the chillul haShem than is regularly occurring at kosher slaughter houses." Unfortunately, there apparently is no group within the Jewish community that goes inside slaughterhouses and exposes the abuses done in the name of kosher slaughter. And there certainly doesn't seem to be much being done by the authorities in the kosher meat industry to fix the problem either.