A cow with a red coat and big floppy ears looking at the camera.

Halal slaughter in Australia.

There is some misunderstanding around halal slaughter here in Australia.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated August 11, 2015

Islamic leaders in Australia largely accept the practice of pre-slaughter stunning, which means from an animal welfare perspective, Halal slaughter need not be any different – nor ‘crueller’ – than non-halal slaughter.

When it comes to the way animals are stunned – the same method (referred to as ‘reversible stunning’) is used for many animals killed for their meat in Australia. We are advised that all of Australia’s export abattoirs practice pre-slaughter stunning, and they are all ‘halal-certified’.

It is illegal for slaughterhouses in Australia to slaughter animals without stunning them first, however, a small number of facilities have been given an exemption in order to practice un-stunned ‘ritual’ slaughter. This is not only for a small local halal market, but also to meet Jewish or ‘kosher’ slaughter requirements.

In reality, for the animals forced to endure any type of slaughter, there is no ‘humane’ end. But to ensure the suffering is reduced as much as possible, Animals Australia has campaigned to close the legal loophole that is allowing non-stun slaughter – both halal and kosher – to occur in several small slaughterhouses in Australia. We have lobbied politicians, held rallies and strengthened the collective voice for animals on this important issue. Thousands of Australians joined our calls to outlaw this cruel practice, and we will continue to campaign against non-stun slaughter until it is outlawed.

‘Humane’ slaughter?

Sadly, what our work and the work of our colleagues from many other organisations has revealed, is that all animals killed in Australian slaughterhouses are at risk of great suffering.

For example, footage from what was considered to be Australia’s ‘most humane’ pig slaughterhouse (which is also the largest pig abattoir in Australia) exposed the horrendous suffering of pigs. This was just one example of how, even in the most ‘well-managed’ facilities using ‘best practice’ methods, there is always a risk that animals will endure distressing and/or prolonged pain and suffering.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A screenshot of cctv footage of a pigs in a slaughterhouse
The vast majority of over 5 million pigs killed for food in Australia each year spend their final moments gasping for air inside a gas chamber. This is not only legal, but the ‘best’ method the pig meat industry has come up with to slaughter pigs.

Time and time again our investigations have revealed that what happens to animals hidden behind the walls of slaughterhouses is far from ‘humane’. Regardless of whether they are killed in a halal or kosher-approved slaughterhouse or not, the transport and slaughter process animals endure in our current farming systems lead to distress and suffering. This is in part due to a frightening lack of government oversight or effective independent monitoring — however, even the standard practices in Australian slaughterhouses would shock most people.

To learn more about the inherent cruelty involved with the slaughter of animals in our food system, we encourage you to explore our investigative work in Australian slaughterhouses.

Help spare animals from suffering in slaughterhouses

By choosing to eat more compassionately, we can shift the demand that leads to sensitive animals being bred only to be killed for food. Not sure where to start? Order your free Veg Starter Kit today for all the information you’ll need to fill your plate with food that is kinder to all