Sheep carcasses at a Halal slaughterhouseMeat at a halal abattoir © Mark Large/ANL/REX_Shutterstock

Scotland needs to be on the guard against the “creep of non-stun slaughter” of animals, a vets’ group president has warned.

Speaking at the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) annual Scottish dinner on Wednesday (13 May), John Blackwell praised Scotland for its high levels of animal welfare.

The BVA stepped up its campaign to end non-stun slaughter with the launch of an e-petition last April.

The petition has now gathered well over 100,000 signatures and it has been debated by MPs at Westminster.

See also: Government has no plans to end non-stun slaughter

In his speech, Mr Blackwell praised Scotland for having very little non-stun slaughter.

But he warned that challenges lay ahead in Scotland, such as the lack of cull sow slaughter facilities in the country.

Some cull sows were being transported more than 500 miles for slaughter and he called on the Scottish government to support the building of a multi-species slaughter facility at Forfar to avoid this “unnecessary and stressful transportation of animals at the end of their lives”.

Mr Blackwell also stressed that Scotland needed to ensure that the amount of non-stun slaughter did not rise.

“Scotland leads the way again with non-stun slaughter, having only a very small amount in the poultry sector,” he added.

“Even though very small, we would like to see an end to this. But while it is allowed in Scotland under the derogation, we wish to see refinement and an acceptance of reversible head-only stunning in poultry alongside a balancing of supply and demand for those communities requiring non-stun products and labelling to allow informed choice by those who don’t.”

His speech emphasised vets’ role in safeguarding human and animal health, including:

  • Ensuring Scotland retains its Officially TB-Free status by controlling the disease in England and Wales
  • Scotland entering phase four of the bovine viral diarrhoea eradication scheme, with 80% of animals now testing negative
  • A new test for sheep scab developed by the Moredun Institute being initially offered free of charge by the APHA
  • The groundbreaking research being carried out by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre
  • Vets’ role in combating antimicrobial resistance and Quality Meat Scotland’s project looking at antimicrobial use in pigs
  • The proposed consultation on making PEDv a notifiable disease in Scotland