A-Z of getting tender meat from livestock

Friday December 18 2015

A man selects a sheep carcass at Turi Slaughterhouse in Molo in 2012. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A man selects a sheep carcass at Turi Slaughterhouse in Molo in 2012. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Animal slaughtering should be humane.

Friendly slaughtering reduces exposure of animals to unnecessary injury, pain and suffering.

A day before slaughter, examine the health of the animals to ensure only those fit for human consumption proceed to the abattoir.

The healthy ones are then provided with shelter and water, but not food. If you feed the animals at the time of slaughter, you will get false additional live weight.

Starving further makes evisceration (removing inner contents) easy, plus emptying the gastro intestinal tract easier and faster.

Animals should be taken into the slaughterhouse in a friendly manner.

Should the animal be very aggressive, restrain it. Aversive methods of restraining make the animals vocalise, indicating pain.

Ensure that they come in one by one so that the others do not get stressed from stunning.

Stunning is the first slaughter code of practice. The animal is hit using a captive bolt or blunt object (which many can afford), in the middle of the forehead aiming at the brain. This should be very fast and just once, enough to render the animal unconscious instantaneously.

If stunning is not carried out properly, meat quality will be poor with possible presence of blood spots or bruises.

Once unconscious, the animal is exsanguinated; has its throat cut or a sharp object is inserted through the chest and close to the heart. This is to cut the main veins and arteries.

Thereafter, the animal should be suspended on an overhead rail with head facing down for bleeding.

Bleeding should also be quick to lower blood pressure that prevents bursting of blood capillaries, thus avoiding blood splash in the meat.

This is followed by removal of hide from cattle or skin from small ruminants. This should be done with care to avoid creating cuts in the hides and skins or leaving meat on them. Good hides and skins can be cured and sold.

Then the carcass is dissected and intestines and other internal organs removed. This is known as evisceration.

The intestines should be deslimed and then thoroughly washed together with other edible items like heart and liver. Inedible parts, including partially digested feeds or paunch manure should be disposed. After the slaughter, the meat should be inspected by a veterinary officer to check it is fit for human consumption.

Opinya is an expert at the Animal Science Department, Egerton University.