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Will closed circuit television help improve the welfare of farm animals?

At abattoirs, saleyards and other commercial facilities where large numbers of animals are handled on a daily basis, there is the potential for the welfare of the animals to be forgotten in an effort to get the job done as quickly as possible.

The RSPCA believes that people who handle animals, including those that are part of the slaughter process, must be trained, and competent in the task they are expected to perform. Standard operating procedures must be in place to ensure that it is clear what is required of a particular task.

Facilities must be subject to regular audits to ensure that staff are complying with state/territory animal welfare regulation as well as those relating to food safety, hygiene, etc. Facility management must ensure that animal welfare is seen as a priority and that there is a zero tolerance policy towards animal abuse.

This is why the RSPCA has always strongly encouraged the use of closed circuit television (CCTV). The use of CCTV sends a strong signal to those people working with animals, that animal welfare is of the highest priority and that cruelty will not be tolerated. CCTV should be used in those areas where the risk to animal welfare is greatest, e.g. at unloading from the transport vehicle, where animals are moved into and out of holding pens, or into a stunning area prior to slaughter. Increased monitoring (e.g. through CCTV) is particularly important at slaughter, e.g. at stunning (including controlled atmosphere systems), shackling, and bleeding out.

CCTV should not replace the hiring of people with the right attitude towards animals, comprehensive staff training and good stockmanship. CCTV, however, is an excellent means by which facility management and auditors can monitor compliance with standards and regulations relating to animal welfare. CCTV allows problem areas to be identified and promptly addressed. The RSPCA strongly supports its implementation.

The UK Farm Animal Welfare Committee has recently published an Opinion on CCTV in slaughterhouses which outlines the advantages of CCTV as well as appropriate protocols for its use. As of early 2018, all abattoirs in the UK will be required to have CCTV in areas where live animals are held.

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Updated on May 1, 2019
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