Although the flesh of healthy livestock is practically sterile, when the animal is killed many factors can contribute to contamination of the carcass including improperly designed and constructed slaughter facilities. This chapter provides guidelines for meat slaughter facilities to consider in building or modifying slaughter facilities.

Because different species of livestock need different slaughter facilities, this chapter is organized in the following way:

  • Sections 1 through 8 describe general guidelines for facilities that slaughter cattle, calves, sheep, goats, hogs, and equines.
  • Sections 9 through 37 describe additional guidelines for slaughter facilities as follows:
  • Sections 9 through 19 contain additional guidelines for cattle slaughter operations;
  • Section 20 contains additional guidelines for calf, sheep, and goat slaughter operations;
  • Sections 21through 26 contain additional guidelines for hog slaughter operations;
  • Section 27 contains additional guidelines for equine slaughter operations.

Note: The guidelines in this chapter are in addition to Chapters 1 through 8 which contain general guidelines which apply to all official meat and poultry establishments.

Meat Slaughter—General Facilities Guidelines

The following guidelines apply to all establishments that slaughter cattle, calves, sheep, goats, hogs and equines. If you are building or modifying an establishment that slaughters these species, consider these facilities guidelines to prevent contamination of carcasses during slaughter operations.

1. Livestock Pens

In addition to preventing contamination of the slaughter department and minimizing contaminates on the hides of the animals, proper design and construction of livestock pens prevent injury to the animals. Consider the following facilities guidelines when designing and constructing livestock pens:

  • Livestock pens should be located outside the slaughter department to prevent contamination of products from dust, odors, and other contaminates. If possible, the livestock pens should be separated from the department by full-height partitions of impervious material.
  • Livestock pens, driveways, and ramps should be free from sharp or protruding objects which could cause injury or pain to the animals.
  • Floors of the pens, ramps, unloading chutes, and runways should be constructed to provide good footing for livestock. Waffled floor surfaces and cleated ramps are effective construction designs.
  • Floors of the pens, ramps, unloading chutes, and runways should be sloped for drainage and cleaning.
  • Pen enclosures (except gateways) should be high and sturdy enough to prevent livestock from escaping.
  • Gates, fences, and chutes should have smooth surfaces that are easily cleaned .
  • Man gates or, if the walls are concrete, toeholds formed in the walls should be present to allow people to escape from pen enclosures in an emergency.
  • To help prevent livestock from slipping and falling on floors covered with excess water, thereby further contaminating their hides, water troughs should be provided with overflows located above or adjacent to pen floor drains.
  • Hose connections should be provided for cleanups.
  • Covered pens should be provided to protect crippled or downer animals from adverse climatic conditions. If held overnight, the pens should be large enough to allow the animals to lie down and have facilities for feed and water.

Pens and driveways should be arranged so that sharp corners and direction reversals of driven animals are minimized.

  • A ‘‘U.S. suspect’’ or ‘‘U.S. condemned ’’ pen should be available at all times and designed to allow for complete separation, including the drainage system, from other livestock.