Evaluation of the animal welfare during religious slaughtering
Plasma cortisol and its metabolites are physiological indicators for stress assessment and slaughtering method may affect their levels, playing an important role in the correct acidification of meat. The aim of the study was to determine and compare plasma cortisol values in animals slaughtered using traditional procedures, which include stunning (using captive bolt pistol), with those in animals slaughtered using Halal method, which does not involve stunning. The study was carried out on a total of 60 Charolais male beef cattle of eight months of age, bred in free paddock outdoors. The animals were divided into two experimental groups, each consisting of 30 individuals, on the basis of the slaughtering method, i.e. traditional or Halal, to verify the whole production chain and to ensure that the product conformed to Muslim rules. Plasma cortisol levels (detected by Elisa test) were evaluated at two different times of animal productive life: on the farm, one week before slaughter (T0) and during bleeding (T1). The 30 calves slaughtered after stunning showed plasma cortisol values of 4.06±1.94 and 43.72±12.09 nmol/L, respectively on the farm and during exsanguination. Conversely, the average values found in the 30 calves subjected to ritual slaughter were 3.26±1.01 and 88.81±41.02 nmol/L. The study demonstrated that throughout the animal’s productive life (from pasture to slaughter) the greatest variation between slaughter with and without stunning was observed during bleeding.
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