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A delicate topic: slaughter

The revolution coming from Spain: cameras in slaughterhouses

In recent weeks, public opinion has focused on news from Spain: the obligation to have cameras in slaughterhouses, both as a surveillance measure to prevent irregularities in the slaughter phase and as a protection tool for consumers, who are increasingly attentive respect for animal welfare. Spain was the first European nation to require all facilities to use cameras to protect cattle and chickens, after serious abuses brought to light by courageous journalistic investigations.

As farmers and breeders, we can only support this decision: we are the first to have the health of our animals at heart, even if we know that people outside the sector have a big question pending, often launched as a provocation: how can they coexist two opposing concepts such as animal welfare and slaughter?

Ethical slaughter: for further information

Anyone wishing to delve deeper can rely on the very technical conference held in June entitled: “Man's conscious relationship with livestock animals. Critical analysis of the provisions in force regarding the protection of animals in the food supply chain" in which many important voices participated: Alberto Viganò for animal ethics in the Christian perspective, Pasqualino Santori for bioethics, Alessandro Fantini who illustrated the "Precision Livestock Farming (PLF)” ​​as a holistic response to the ethics and sustainability of animal production and Fabrizio De Stefani with a critical analysis of the current provisions.

We will now try to accompany you in some reflections, to understand together how it is possible to reconcile the irreconcilable: that is, when the life of a living being becomes food for another living being.

If you want to learn more about our point of view, here is our article " Respectful slaughter of cattle ".

Genuine reflections on slaughter

The "easy" answers such as "it has always been done this way" and "man is a carnivore, the cow is an inferior being", hide (deep down) a grain of truth, but do not satisfy even us who belong to the environment, so imagine the growing sensitivity of those who choose not to consume products of animal origin and those who instead choose to consume meat produced in the most respectful way possible, considering animal welfare as an essential part of the quality of the food.

We travel back in time, we are in the Paleolithic era in the times of "it has always been done this way": men hunted to feed themselves, risking their own lives and being grateful for the "gifts" offered by the prey: food, fur, bones. With domestication, primitive man signed a pact based on the concept of a gift to be reciprocated. The animals gave meat, milk, eggs and wool to humans and in exchange received the gift of the possibility of living a good, healthy life and reproducing.

Let's fast forward to Catholicism: Saint Thomas Aquinas establishes the position of animals at a lower level than man, therefore created for man according to the hierarchical order established by God in creation, therefore their killing for service is lawful of man, always avoiding "unjustified pain". Today Pope Francis also maintains in Laudato Sì that "man must respect the goodness of every creature, to avoid a disorderly use of things". Use and abuse, we farmers add, when we see waste within distribution.

It is therefore undeniable that life, even that of an animal, has great value: we breeders know this well and we know that the smaller the farm, the more the value of life is respected, ironically, even at the moment of death.

The point of view of our peasant tradition

Like for example in the stable of our farmhouse, where we are passionate breeders and where we have always followed ancient peasant traditions, paying great attention to respecting animal welfare: we take care of the calves from birth, we feed them well, we worry about their health and we try to always offer them the best life possible, the longest possible and free of anxiety, pain and all avoidable suffering.

Technically we are talking about "Precision Livestock Farming (PLF)" as a holistic response to the ethics and sustainability of animal production. The PLF is "precision farming" understood as a company in which the animals are cared for one by one, in a rational manner without waste or shortages, as typically happened in the small rural realities of the past, with small farms, a frugal peasant economy that he considered meat a product of great value, certainly not for daily consumption.

As the size of the stables has increased, breeding has become a business activity like any other, with economies of scale and the constant search for profit. In this context the breeder has inevitably lost the relationship with the individual animal and frugality has given way to the industrial logic of ROI.

On large farms, relationships with animals are delegated to many people who often do not have technical training; these are the conditions that can favor mistreatment and coercion and which often contribute to the bad reputation of this activity. Ask yourself why in the supermarket there are packets of meat that are worth less than a kilo of bread, Dr. provokes us. Santori, President of the Institute of Bioethics for Veterinary and Agri-food. With industrial farming, meat has become a product of trivial value, foreign to the concept of animals, farming and life. The consumer finds it easily, in abundance and cheaply, among the supermarket counters. What quality of life do we think we will find in a product of little value?

Family management as a value

In the family-run farms selected by us, animal welfare and protection are always guaranteed at all times, even and above all in the slaughtering phase: high standards of general care contribute in fact to a high quality of the meat.

If you want to learn more, here is our article " The supply chain that makes the difference: ethical slaughter ".

To conclude the reflections, let's now also introduce Dario Cecchini, the famous butcher who has always lived with the dilemma of the contrast between animal welfare and killing. To the question “Can we respect an animal that we eat?” He, who as a boy dreamed of being a vet and then became a very good artisan butcher, replies: “It's a good question, in fact there are many who think not. I think so, by breeding well and trying to give the animals a good, long life and a compassionate death, using all the meat from nose to tail without waste, thanking the animal for the gift it gives us."

Returning to the beginning of the article: yes, slaughter that respects the animal is possible. But it is possible by taking responsibility for our choices as consumers, seeking a return to the origins and sobriety in our consumption: choosing family-run farms and short supply chains and always favoring the direct connection between the farmer, trusted butcher and consumer. Only in this way is conscious, respectful and sustainable nutrition possible.