Humane Slaughter

Animals deserve humane treatment during every stage of their lives – including during the induction of death, whether it’s euthanasia, slaughter or depopulation. These guidelines reflect AVMA’s ongoing commitment to ensure that the treatment of animals during every stage of life is as humane and respectful as possible and without unnecessary pain or distress. They were developed by the Panel on Humane Slaughter, which is comprised of veterinarians, animal scientists, and an animal ethicist. The panel experts provided considerable breadth and depth of expertise, supplemented by input from additional experts and comments provided during a designated comment period.

The AVMA Guidelines for the Humane Slaughter of Animals (also available in ebook format) provide guidance for veterinarians about how to prevent pain and distress in animals that have been designated for slaughter. The guidelines do not venture into discussions about the morality of killing animals for food; the focus is on what should happen to animals to best protect their welfare when slaughter is their ultimate fate.

The guidelines address humane slaughter of animal species that are included in the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) or the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) – such as cattle, sheep, swine, equines, and poultry. They also address animal species not covered by the HMSA – such as fish, rabbits, ratites and alligators among others – as well as the aspects of religious (kosher and halal) slaughter that are exempt from the HMSA. They do not address hunting or the killing of animals raised for fur or fiber.