SIGOURNEY, IA—Describing their company as a humane alternative to standard industrialized packing plants, owners of a new free-range slaughterhouse told reporters Wednesday that they allow their livestock to stay active by openly roaming around on the killing room floor.
According to company officials, the KLJ Packing slaughterhouse refuses to subject its animals to the abuses of cramped and overcrowded chutes, opting instead to let its cows, pigs, chickens, and sheep wander around the machines and butchering tables throughout the 55,000-square-foot kill floor until workers select them for slaughter.
“Rather than cruelly herding our stock onto dark, narrow loading ramps, we believe in letting them move freely across our facility’s spacious, blood-sluicing grated floor,” said KLJ Packing operations manager Eric Judd, adding that the extra room is intended to make the animals as comfortable as possible for the 24 hours between arriving at the plant and being skinned and dismembered for sale. “Before our animals are led into stun boxes, they’re allowed to walk without hindrance among the carcasses suspended from the bleeding rail and the floor’s various viscera piles.”
“It’s important to treat these animals with compassion,” he continued.
“While it is slightly less efficient and more costly for us to insist on letting our animals stretch their legs by walking along rows of circular saws where workers decapitate chickens, we stand by the ethical treatment of our livestock.”
Factory sources, who expounded on the many benefits of free-range slaughter floors, confirmed that the company’s cows and sheep have unrestricted movement and boundless space in which to thrash around during the five to 10 seconds after a bolt has gone through their brain, helping to prevent the bruises and abrasions that are associated with packing livestock close together in tight quarters.
Reports indicated that the no-pen policy also allows the livestock to continue the social behaviors essential to their health, noting that chickens are able to maintain the structure of their flocks while weaving between the gutting stands and the various troughs for fat, connective tissue, and meat scraps.
Officials added that the animals’ stress-induced cortisol levels, which tend to spike after their long rides from the farms, are more easily reduced when they are free to roam around at their leisure near the scalding vats used to remove hair from pigs.
“While it is slightly less efficient and more costly for us to insist on letting our animals stretch their legs by walking along rows of circular saws where workers decapitate chickens, we stand by the ethical treatment of our livestock.” Judd said. “However, it’s not just about recognizing a cow’s right to wander freely through the showers of blood pouring from suspended animals’ severed aortas—it’s also about producing a better-tasting product.”
“When you bite into a steak, you can tell whether or not it was given the chance to amble around near its own disemboweled calf,” he added.