Erin Stein, Bristol, England, June 11, 2014

This day was a little bit slower than the previous two days.  While we had all three species represented, we had only eleven animals in total to work with.  We were accompanied by one of the other vets assigned to the abattoir:  a veterinarian from Norway named Pia.  Pia accompanied us through our ante mortem evaluations.  Today held an interesting case in that a farmer brought in two pigs that had no identification.  There were not any tattoos or ear tags.  The law in Great Britain is rather ambiguous and merely states that if the identity of the animal can be proven to the satisfaction of the Official Veterinarian, then the animal may be slaughtered.  Therefore, it is up to the OV to whether or not he/she believes that the farmer has brought in the correct animals.  In this case, the OV was satisfied and the animals were slaughtered.

Some of the cattle that were brought in today were Dexters which are very small, miniature cattle.  However, what they lack in size, they definitely make up for in feistiness.  It was potentially a problem but not an impossibility when it came to loading them into the stun boxes.  Since the stun boxes are made for full sized cattle, the Dexters had quite a bit of room to kick and throw a fit before the captive bolt gun could be fired.  Thankfully no one was injured and the animals were able to be slaughtered effectively and humanely.

As part of our assignment for the day, each of us took an animal and followed it from ante mortem inspections through slaughter to finally post mortem inspections where we presented our findings.  Mine happened to be a sheep that was a treasure trove of pathology.  There were signs of extensive wool pulling on the carcass (bruising and hemorrhage involving the skin particularly in areas on the dorsum and around the neck).  Internally, there was evidence of Cystercercus tenuicollis in the liver; Muellerius capillaris and one other type of parasite in the lung.  Also, the sheep had evidence of enzootic pneumonia.  The final consensus was to condemn the lungs but accept the remainder of the carcass for consumption.

Following a break for tea, we finished up the slaughter for the remaining few animals.  Then we received two lectures from Pia.  The first was on the “Role of the Official Veterinarian in the Abattoir” and the second was “Emergency Slaughter Outside the Slaughterhouse.”  Both lectures were exceptionally interesting.  What has struck me as especially interesting is that most of the OVs in Great Britain are not British and were not even trained in Great Britain.  Instead, most of them are Spanish or come from Eastern European countries such as Romanian.  Apparently, as in the United States, there is a disappointing lack of interest in public health among veterinary students who are mainly interested in clinical practice even though the hours are far better in the public health sector (no overtime or weekends and set hours).  Regarding emergency slaughter, Great Britain has strict regulations regarding what may be slaughtered on an emergency basis and what cannot.  There is an entire list that details what is an actual emergency meriting slaughter including that it must be an otherwise healthy accident that suffered an accident.  A veterinarian must perform the emergency slaughter after doing an ante-mortem inspection.  The list is fairly extensive but several steps are fairly open to interpretation.  However, at the end of the process, there is a form which must detail why the animal was slaughtered and what the emergency was and the veterinarian must sign it.  Therefore, his/her name is meant to be the bond that upholds the standards.  Following the lecture, we were given several cases that we had to interpret whether or not they were actually emergencies that warranted slaughter.  Each of us presented our cases and then discussed them in detail.