Guidelines for the humane slaughter of animals

​The AVMA guidelines for the humane slaughter of animals (PDF) provide guidance for veterinarians about how to prevent pain and distress in animals that have been designated for slaughter. The overriding commitment of these guidelines is 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.

The recommendations in the guidelines are intended to guide veterinarians, who must then use professional judgment in applying them to the various settings where animals are to be slaughtered.

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.

Related policy

AVMA guidelines for the euthanasia of animals

AVMA guidelines for the depopulation of animals