Don’t disassemble me

I’ll wager anything that that’s what animals would say if asked their opinion on whether they’d like to live out their lives and die a natural death or visit a slaughterhouse.

Lately I’ve been stuck on the idea that most people don’t really consider the horror involved in the transformation that takes place to go from living, sentient being to product under plastic wrap in the supermarket, so here are just a few of the lovely people that an animal will meet and the jobs they perform during the disassembly process of someone’s mother, father, son or daughter.

1. Cattle Driver works in pens and squeeze pen; uses electric prods, paddles, whips and voice to drive cattle into serpentine.

2. Serpentine Cattle Driver works in serpentine; uses electric prods, paddles, whips, and voice to drive up serpentine and into knocking box. Also responsible for marking lot cow.

3. Knocker operates knocking box; uses air gun to drive captive-steel bolt into foreheads of cattle while they are suspended on center track amd restrained by side walls.

4. Shackler shackles rear left hind leg of cattle with chain suspended from overhead rail; can shackle either before or after knocked cattle fall onto green conveyor belt from which they are lifted up by the chain.

5. Indexer/Hand Knocker uses long metal pole to space cattle between “dogs” on overhead rail; uses cap-gun hand knocker to shoot cattle that show signs of sentience after passing through the knocking box.

6. Ear-Tag Recorder uses paper forms to record ear-tag number and color of each cow; also keeps track of lot numbers.

7. Presticker uses hand knife to make incision along length of cow’s neck, giving the sticker access to jugular vein and carotid arteries. Must take care not to be kicked in face, arms, chest, neck, or abdominal area by cows that are reflexively kicking, or kicking because they have not been knocked completely unconscious.

8. Sticker reaches into the incision made by the presticker and uses hand knife to cut jugular veins and carotid arteries of cow.

9. Tail ripper uses hydraulic scissor-type knife to cut off bottom third of tail; disposes of this down a chute; uses hand knife to make incision from the anus to the teat or penis area.

10. First Legger uses hand knife to cut hide off rear right leg, opening hide to expose flesh underneath.

11. Bung Capper uses hand knife to cut around anus.

12. First Hock Cutter uses large hydraulic shears to sever right hind hoof about six to ten inches from end and deposits hoof in chute; uses hand knife to poke hole between tendon and lower leg bone.

13. Belly Ripper uses hand knife to make incision down length of cow, starting from udder or penis area where the tail ripper left off and continuing to about mid-chest level.

14. First Codder uses air knife to skin inside thigh of right leg, picking up at point where first legger left off.

15. First Butter uses air knife to seperate hide from flesh around anus area.

16. First Hock Vacuum sticks enormous metal air-vacuum over first hock (hind right leg, now clipped by first hock cutter) and holds it there for approximately seven seconds to clean area of fecal matter and hair.

17. First Hang Off inserts metal hook attached to metal wheel pushed by “dogs” on seperate overhead rail system into the hock hole created be first hock cutter; guides/ lifts the wheel onto the main rail track.

18. Trimmer uses handheld trimming knife to clear area behind right hind leg and anus of fecal matter and hair; position exists primarily in winter when there is more fecal matter on cattle.

19. Unshackler/Low Raider uses hands to release shackle as a machine called a low raider lowers left hind leg of cow. Cow now hangs from hook threaded through hole in leg created by the first hock cutter.

20. Second Legger uses hand knife to skin left hind leg exactly as first legger has done for right hind leg.

And on and on for 121 steps at the slaughterhouse.

The preceding steps are just a short excerpt from the excellent and painstakingly well documented book Every Twelve Seconds by Timothy Pachirat (whom I happen to know), the book is about much more than this, but today I wanted to point out how matter of fact and routine the job’s descriptions seem, as if they were simply assembling a new car, or in this case disassembling a car, in fact it’s been said that Henry Ford got the idea for his automotive assembly line after seeing the disassembly conveyor in a Chicago slaughterhouse.


These things should never be allowed to become a routine part of everyday life (for humans) or death (for animals), and yet they are, and this is something that happens to another cow every twelve seconds just in this one slaughterhouse in Omaha every day, let alone all the other slaughterhouses in this country and the world, and for those of you talking about how you’d only buy (happy) “humane” meat, those animals meet the same end as the others.

Show me where the “humane” is in that.

Don’t support this shit, you don’t need to.


This is not the place in Timothy’s book, but another slaughtersouse.





4 thoughts on “Don’t disassemble me

  1. I heard Timothy’s interview on Our Hen House and I was incredibly moved by how he described the politics of sight, when seeing the living. That seeing Kayli really moved him in a direction that didn’t necessarily happen when he was undercover at the slaughterhouse.

    I think making the connection between the dead and the living is key to changing minds – and why sanctuaries are so important. They educate on the killing while showing the result of rescue – the passionate and loving non-human animals who deserve better.

  2. Great post Mike. I heard that Timothy actually became vegan after visiting us at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and meeting Kayli (a slaughterhouse escapee). I can’t wait to read his book although I know it will leave me in a fetal position sobbing.

    Keep up the great writing, my friend!

    Jenny Brown, Co-founder/Director Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

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