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Dictionary meanings of humane include: ‘kind, benevolent behaviour’ and ‘compassion for the suffering or distressed’ when applied to people and ‘inflicts less pain than others’ when applied to an instrument.
The RSPCA definition of humane killing is: ‘when an animal is either killed instantly or rendered insensible until death ensues, without pain, suffering or distress'. When killing animals for food (termed slaughter), this means they must be stunned prior to bleeding out so they immediately become unconscious.
All methods of humane killing, including slaughter and on-farm euthanasia, must meet the same criteria:
A high level of operator skill is essential for the humane killing of animals. Operators must be trained in:
The method of killing will vary according to species and the circumstances at the time. Some procedures for humane slaughter regularly used include:
Humane killing on farm is often carried out using a rifle and, depending on the species, will be done using one of the following positions:
Killing methods should only be used if they have been declared humane by recognised expert authorities and they meet these basic criteria.