What is behind Twiggy Forrest’s No Pain No Fear beef slaughter process?

Australian entrepreneur from the WEST Twiggy Forest recently fired a salute at eastern state red meat processor JBS – and indeed the meat processing industry in general – over their performance and animal welfare standards before slaughter.

In full-page newspaper ads in metropolitan dailies across Australia last month, Mr. Forrest issued what he called a “public challenge” to JBS clients over the company’s performance in the field. animal welfare.

He used a term never heard before in the red meat industry – “No pain, no fear” – to describe an advanced pre-slaughter process developed at his WA beef processing plant, Harvey Beef.

“The ideal of No Pain No Fear can be faced by many players in the beef industry,” the company said in advertisements last month. “It may seem like an impossible challenge to overcome, or a phrase that must be kept out of sight and out of mind. But profits cannot take priority over the pain and suffering of an animal.

Mr. Forrest said that within his own processing company, Harvey Beef, there was “no compromise”.

“We don’t think an animal should suffer and we don’t want to hide from the issues related to the ethical treatment of the animals in our care,” he said earlier.

“I am very proud to say that at Harvey Beef we have introduced the ‘No Pain No Fear’ framework for the last moments before transformation – which, if not managed ethically, can be a stressful time. for cattle.

The company said its definition of “No Pain, No Fear” was an unwavering commitment to removing pain and fear from the later stages of an animal’s life.

“For us, it’s not just a business license, it’s really what drives us. We are proposing new terminology, because some of the things that we are trying to accomplish do not currently exist. Our end-to-end supply chain and our commitment to always do more when it comes to No Pain No Fear and environmental sustainability means our customers don’t have to compromise their values ​​when choosing a Harvest Road product, ” the company said in a statement. .

“We are committed to continuously improving the physical and mental well-being of animals and are determined to achieve the highest level of animal welfare in the world. Harvest Road’s No Pain No Fear vision inspires us to go beyond existing animal welfare standards to eliminate animal pain and fear.

Responding to reader requests, Beef Central asked Harvey Beef and parent company, Harvest Road, for clarification and explanation of what was involved in the “No Pain, No Fear” pre-slaughter process. The company has now shared some details. It is for the readers to decide whether the procedure is significantly different from the routine handling of animals before slaughter practiced widely in industry.

Sensory enrichment program

Harvey Beef describes what he calls a “sensory enrichment program”, developed to cover the last 50 meters of an animal’s life at the slaughterhouse.

The process of “sensory enrichment” encompasses sound, sight, smell and touch, as described here:

  • Ring: The use of acoustic wall materials to reduce noise stress; elimination of loud noises around the race; and the use of low noise and shock absorbing swing gates
  • Seen: Improved visibility for the animal is provided by continuous illumination; and test the positive impact of visual aids
  • Feel: Barriers are provided to remove odors from the processing stage; the scent of alfalfa hay is provided by the vents
  • To feel: Electric cattle prods (jiggers) have been replaced by an “airbuzz massager”; the flooring is standardized for a familiar feel underfoot.

Considerations for handling animals in the framework include the use of “skilled herders passionately engaged in principles of low stress and animal handling based on the natural behavior of herd animals”.

Harvey Beef said his research concepts and ideas behind the program were developed using behavioral observations, stress hormone measurements, and physiological measurements.

The company has announced that it will publish a research paper on the subject later in 2021.

“Harvest Road culture puts animal welfare first and ensures that our behaviors are always in the best interest of the animals,” the company said.

“We go beyond the five freedoms to provide animals with the highest level of physical and mental well-being possible in the five areas of nutrition, environment, health, behavior and mental state. . “

“Our employees are equipped with the knowledge, skills, equipment and leadership to care for animals safely,” the company said. “We are passionately committed to continuous improvement by generating ideas and science-backed innovations to set global standards of best practice in animal welfare. “

The company said it aims to take a leadership role in driving positive change in animal welfare through education and engagement with industry, consumers, governments and other stakeholders around the world.