Botched Killings & Violent Abuse at “Humane” Meat Slaughterhouse

New hidden-camera footage, released by Animal Justice, gives the first-ever behind-the-scenes look at a small-scale, local Canadian slaughterhouse. While many Canadian believe that buying local or so-called “humanely-raised” meat means that animals don’t suffer, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Animal Justice was provided with footage from Meadow Valley Meats slaughterhouse in Pitt Meadows, just outside Vancouver. The video shows gentle cows, calves, sheep, goats, and llamas enduring illegal abuse and heartbreaking suffering, including:

  • Terrified animals trying desperately to escape
  • Workers beating animals in the face with canes, paddles, and electric prods
  • Animals improperly stunned, and showing signs of consciousness after being sliced open
  • Sheep slaughtered despite being unable to walk, which is illegal in the United States

The conditions also put worker safety at risk, as employees face terrified animals attempting to escape the brutal slaughter that awaits.

Watch the Video

What is Meadow Valley Meats?

The website for Meadow Valley’s 63 Acres brand of beef said it is being sold at local-focused BC grocery chains like Urban Fare, and an Urban Fare store representative confirmed to Animal Justice last month that 63 Acres meat was sold at the store. Urban Fare belongs to the same parent company as Save-On-Foods, a company that boasts about transparency in their supply chain.

Image from 63 Acres website mentioning "humane" treatment of animals.
Image from 63 Acres’ website claiming “humane” treatment of animals.

Meadow Valley Meats has a poor track record. In 2015, the company was convicted of selling E. coli-contaminated beef. The two directors of the company, Ken and Jeff Kooyman, are also directors of Chilliwack Cattle Sales—a factory dairy farm in BC that was exposed on hidden-camera for violent abuse of cows in 2014 in one of the biggest animal abuse cases in Canadian history. The company pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was hit with massive fines, and some employees even went to jail.

Animal Loading

The nightmare begins as animals are unloaded from the truck. Drivers and workers use electric prods to force animals into narrow chutes. When they get stuck, some workers violently hit and prod them in the body, neck, and face when they have nowhere to move—all which is illegal under federal and provincial laws.

One cow collapsed after being crushed against a wall in an overcrowded hallway. The cow was pinned to the floor for nine long minutes.

Cow crushed in an overcrowded hallway.

Failed Stunning

In slaughterhouses, larger animals like cows are forced into knock boxes one-by-one, where they’re shot by a bolt gun to knock them out. Many of them can tell what’s coming, and try desperately to get away. These guns plunge a bolt through the skulls of the animals and are meant to render them unconscious while they’re killed—but this often fails on the first try. Our shocking footage shows bolt guns jamming up and getting stuck in cows’ heads, and animals being shot repeatedly until they’re eventually unconscious.

Image shows goat trying to escape slaughter.
Goat desperately trying to escape.
Image shows failed stunning of cow in slaughterhouse.
Cow still conscious after being stunned with bolt gun.

Smaller animals, like goats and sheep, are loaded into a smaller knock box together, and held in place by the worker before they are bolted, often in front of each other. Workers repeatedly shot sheep and goats with bolt guns while they were crowded up against other animals before being roughly thrown backwards or dragged by the horns.

Image shows sheep cowering in slaughterhouse.
Sheep cowering together before being killed.
Image shows goat being dragged by horns in slaughterhouse
Goat being dragged away by their horn.

The Kill Floor

After the animals are bolted, a door opens and they fall out onto the kill floor.

The workers tie up the cows’ legs, slice open their throats with a sharp blade, hanging them up to bleed out until they die. The workers then skin the cows’ faces before cutting off their heads.

Animals are supposed to be unconscious before they’re sliced open, but many cows, sheep and goats were regularly found to be conscious on the kill floor, and had to be stunned again.

Image shows cow on kill floor in slaughterhouse.

Animal Justice showed the footage to world-renowned animal welfare expert, Dr. Temple Grandin. She pointed to a lack of employee training, and confirmed that in multiple instances that she could see the animals were improperly stunned before being slaughtered.

“They started to get back up, they woke up…that was a bad stun.”

— Temple Grandin, World-Renowned Animal Welfare Expert

Cameras Needed in Slaughterhouses

This footage is the first-ever chance for Canadians to see the truth about how mammals like cows, sheep, and goats are killed. Slaughterhouses operate in near-total secrecy, concealing the truth about the brutal end from the public. Canadians deserve transparency, and should be able to see inside facilities like these and know what they’re supporting with their food choices.

We’re calling on British Columbia and Canada to join countries like the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands in requiring cameras in slaughterhouses across the country. The footage should be broadcast to the internet so people can see the truth about slaughter with their own eyes.

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