You are the IIC at a cull dairy cow slaughter establishment in Wisconsin. As you arrive in the pen area to perform ante mortem inspection you observe a group of animals being driven down the alley to a holding pen. As the animals go around a corner you observe multiple animals slipping and then regaining their footing to continue walking down the alley to the holding pen. An occasional animal falls during the process. This is the first time you have observed animals slipping and falling in this alley in 12 months (It is now February).
You continue observing the animals unloading for a few minutes and notice the animals are not being overdriven. You observe the plant employee's reaction to the slipping and falling of the animals in that area of the alley. The handler remains calm, and he waits for the animals to regain their footing before he continues moving them down the alley to the holding pen. He does not use a prod at any time. Upon closer investigation you observe that there are 6 inches of semi-frozen feces and mud in the alley where the animals are slipping and falling.
As the IIC you need to determine if a noncompliance has occurred and what actions you should take at this time. You determine that noncompliance exists with respect to regulation ), and take a regulatory control action by tagging the alley "USDA Rejected" as per 9 CFR 313.50 (a). You inform the plant of your control action and the noncompliance. The plant performs immediate corrective action by removing the bulk of the fecal/mud buildup and then layers the area with sawdust to provide better footing. The barn supervisor notifies you verbally of the preventive measures put in place to ensure adequate non-slip footing in the future. You write an noncompliance record (NR) using the 04C02 code (as per FSIS Notice 50-02) with protocol trend indicator, and referencing the appropriate regulation 9 CFR part 313.1(b). You send a copy of the completed NR to the District Office.
The following day, you arrive at the plant in the presence of a light snowfall. Just as the first truckloads of animals arrive, you decide to follow up on the events of the previous day by inspecting the alleys and walkways in connection with the unloading area. You notice that the snow has been removed, and fresh sawdust has been applied. You determine the areas adequate for the passage of livestock.
The handling of animals by the plant employee was calm. The employee was not using a prod nor over driving the animals, Under normal circumstances (during warmer times of the year and when it is drier) you are aware the flooring provided by the plant is adequate to provide good non-slip footing. However, you inform the plant that they must maintain a proactive approach to the humane handling of livestock, and are thereby required to actively monitor both the environment and procedures in association with these practices. Noncompliances should be documented, and regulatory control taken accordingly. Additionally, the effectiveness of the establishment's corrective actions as implemented should be verified by inspection personnel.
The Humane Interactive Knowledge Exchange (HIKE) is a service of the FSIS Technical Service Center and DVMS to foster awareness and regulatory compliance for the welfare of livestock. It is important that everyone understands that HIKE and the information herein is intended for the use of all field employees and to be shared with plant management. If questions pertaining to any of the scenarios, or answers provided on HIKE are not resolved through discussions within the work-group or with the supervisor, they should be submitted to: HIKE@fsis.usda.gov.
- Q: In this particular scenario, who at the District Office received the NR?
A: In this particular case, the NR was received by the local District Veterinary Medical Specialist (DVMS). Each District Office will have an established protocol when receiving NRs from the field. The DVMS is usually the person to which these NRs are directed, but this can occur differently in their absence.
- Q: What is the best way to "send" an NR to the District Office?
A: Both mailing and faxing are acceptable. In the event the NR reflects a particularly egregious event, faxing would be the method of choice, in addition to a phone call. In this particular scenario, the nature of the NR permitted that the NR be mailed.
Note: After this HIKE was published, the Agency determined that if there is an egregious humane handling non-compliance, an NR would not be written. A memorandum of interview (MOI) is written instead to document the event and in support of an immediate suspension action. The MOI is to be forwarded to the DO in the case of an egregious humane handling non-compliance.
- Q: Should the NR which is sent to the District contain the plant's corrective action?
A: This can be decided on a case by case basis. Usually the NR would be sent after receipt of the plant's corrective actions, as what occurred in this scenario. In the event of a particularly egregious non-compliance, it may be necessary to inform the District before the establishment has time to respond.
- 9 CFR 313.1(b): Livestock pens, driveways, and ramps. Floors of livestock pens, ramps, and driveways shall be constructed and maintained so as to provide good footing for livestock. Slip resistant or waffled floor surfaces, cleated ramps and the use of sand, as appropriate, during winter months are examples of acceptable construction and maintenance.
- FSIS Notice 50-02: ISP Procedure Code For Humane Slaughter
- Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act of 1978, URL address: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/7/ch48.html