Slaughtering of livestock has three distinct stages, preslaughter handling, stunning and slaughtering. The biggest concern is preslaughter handling, how the animal is treated before it is stunned and slaughtered.
Stress at this time can cause adverse effects on the meat, water access and lower stocking densities have been allowed to minimize this. However, access to feed is restricted for 12-24 hours prior to slaughtering for ease of evisceration.
Stunning is done when the animal is restrained in a chute so movement is limited. Once restrained the animal can be stunned in one of three methods, penetrating captive bolt non-penetrating captive bolt and gunshot. Most abattoirs use captive bolts over guns.
Stunning ensures the animal feels no pain during slaughtering and reduces the animals stress, therefore increasing the quality of meat.
The final step is slaughtering, typically the animal will be hung by its back leg and its throat will be slit to allow exsanguination. The hide will be removed for further processing at this point and the animal will be broken down with evisceration and decapitation.
The carcass will be placed in a cooler for 24-48 hours prior to meat cutting.