The welfare of low-volume farm animals during transport and at slaughter: a review of current knowledge and recommendations for future research

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Meat from low-volume farm animals such as farmed deer and wild boar is currently widely available to the consumer within the UK. Despite a rapid growth in production of these species there is a paucity of research that focuses on their welfare. This paper reviews the current literature and legislation relating to the transport and slaughter of farmed deer, wild boar, ostriches, buffalo and bison in order to identify priorities for future research. Research on low-volume farm animals has focused on red deer and their welfare is safeguarded with comprehensive legislation and guidelines. Studies have indicated the importance of appropriately designed facilities and sympathetic handling of red deer to ensure humane slaughter with minimal stress. However, the impact of transport and slaughter on the welfare of other deer species has not been recorded and this should be recognised. Much research has been conducted on the welfare of ostriches during transport and at slaughter. However, many of the results are discordant and research is required to clarify, in particular, posture during transport and stunning methods. Research on the welfare of wild boar, buffalo and bison is scarce. Best practice for both transport and slaughter of these species needs further research and clarification within legislation. For the low-volume species discussed in this review, priorities for further research include (1) appropriate methods of handling to minimise stress during transport and slaughter; (2) identification/clarification of appropriate slaughter methods and (3) training of transport and abattoir personnel in handling and slaughter methods.