Script: Humane Handling of Livestock at the Plant
Welcome to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service podcast. Each episode
will bring you cutting edge news and information about how FSIS is working to ensure public
health protection through food safety. While we’re on the job, you can rest assured that
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Hello and welcome! I’m Paul Koscak from FSIS. Joining me again is Joan Collins, a
program manager in the Office of Field Operations. She has been with FSIS for more
than 20 years and has a great deal of experience training front line supervisors on
the statutes, Rules of Practice and administrative enforcement.
Today, we’ll discuss part two in our seven-part series on humane handling.
Now that you have a general understanding of the regulatory framework of humane
handling, we’ll focus on handling livestock at a plant.
Joan, let’s start with some of the requirements of humane handling at the plant.
Well, after a vehicle has entered the official establishment premises, it’s considered
part of the premises and is subject to the FSIS regulations designed to ensure humane
This is a very important concept because it means that FSIS personnel have the
responsibility to verify humane handling when the animals are coming onto the
facility, not just once they reach the holding pens.
It also means that FSIS may verify that livestock are humanely handled when they are
still on the livestock trailers as those trucks are lining up to unload the animals.
And how should livestock be unloaded from the trucks?
They should be unloaded without causing injury. This includes proper positioning of
the trucks, movement of animals while on the truck, and the movement of animals off
the truck into the holding pens.
An example of possible noncompliance is if there is an opening between the truck and
the unloading chute that can trap feet, or that is wide enough for an animal to fall
So, after the animals have been unloaded, what kinds of things should a plant manager
look for? In other words, what type of activities will FSIS inspectors conduct to
ensure humane handling?
Well, the pens, driveways, and ramps must be maintained in good repair. They must be
free from sharp protruding objects that may cause injury. Ramps, driveways, and the
floors of pens must be constructed and maintained so that livestock have good footing.
The pens should be free of loose boards or openings. And driveways should be designed
so that sharp turns or sudden reversals of direction are minimized, and therefore not
likely to cause injury to animals.
Plant officials should also consider the impact of weather conditions on footing. HIKE
scenario 01-03 about slips and falls resulting from inclement weather can be accessed
That’s good to know. What’s considered humane when moving animals?
Animals must be moved with a minimum of excitement and discomfort. They must not be
forced to move faster than a normal walking speed.
For example, if an animal is running, an inspector will need to determine what is
causing the animal to run before deciding if there is regulatory noncompliance. The
key is whether human actions caused the animal to move faster than a walk.
If the animal began running because of a livestock handler’s actions, there is
When moving animals the use of electric prods, canvas slappers, or any other type of
implement must be minimized to prevent injury and excitement. Electric prods must not
carry a charge higher than 50 volts.
There are methods of moving animals that include using the animal’s flight zone and
very simple and harmless tools such as a flag or a plastic shopping bag that animal
handlers can use to cause a minimum of excitement when working with livestock.
These are very important and helpful tips for a plant manager. Thanks, Joan, for
telling us about how animals should be humanely handled at an establishment. Please be
sure to join us next time when we’ll discuss appropriate stunning methods.
Well, that’s all for this episode. We’d like your feedback on our podcast. Or if you
have ideas for future podcasts, send us an e-mail at
email@example.com. To learn more about food safety, try our web site at
www.fsis.usda.gov. Thanks for tuning