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Animals 2018, 8(4), 43;

Analysis of Stress Indicators for Evaluation of Animal Welfare and Meat Quality in Traditional and Jewish Slaughtering

Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Strada Provinciale per Casamassima km 3, 70010 Valenzano (BA), Italy
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Science, University of Bari Aldo Moro, 70125 Bari (BA), Italy
Slaughterhouse, Freelance Veterinary, Str. Prov. 70027 Palo del Colle (BA), Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 January 2018 / Revised: 26 February 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 21 March 2018
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Cortisol and catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine) are released in response to stress and directly stimulate glycogen mobilization, thus influencing meat acidification. The aim of the study was to estimate and compare these stress indicators to evaluate the welfare of beef cattle, subjected to either traditional slaughtering (with stunning) or to slaughtering with religious Jewish rite (without stunning). Significant differences in plasma cortisol and catecholamine levels were observed during exsanguination by monitoring animals in the pre-slaughtering (before and after transportation) and slaughtering phases. Cortisol, dopamine and norepinephrine, but not epinephrine, were markedly higher in the animals slaughtered by the religious rite. Pursuing animal welfare in the religious slaughtering procedures could produce advantages in terms of hygiene, organoleptic quality and shelf life of meat.


Sixty Charolais male beef cattle of eight months of age were divided into two groups according to the slaughtering method, i.e., traditional or Kosher (religious Jewish rite). The aim of the study was to detect and compare the plasma concentrations of cortisol and catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine), by Elisa and HPLC test. These four stress indicators were evaluated during three different stages of each animal productive life: on the farm (step 1), after transportation (step 2) and during bleeding (step 3). The patterns of the parameters measured were similar and, interestingly, revealed significant changes throughout the three steps considered. The greatest variation between the two methods of slaughtering was observed in step 3, where we found a statistically significant difference with all the parameters except epinephrine. In the animals slaughtered by the religious rite, cortisol, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine were 68.70 ± 30.61 nmol/L; 868.43 ± 508.52 ng/L; 3776.20 ± 1918.44 ng/L; and 4352.20 ± 3730.15 ng/L, respectively, versus 45.08 ± 14.15 nmol/L; 513.87 ± 286.32 ng/L; 3425.57 ± 1777.39 ng/L; and 3279.97 ± 1954.53 ng/L, respectively, in the other animals. This suggests that the animals slaughtered by the Kosher rite are subjected to higher stress conditions at the exsanguination phase. The animals slaughtered by the religious Jewish rite showed lower cortisol and catecholamine levels on the farm (step 1) and after transportation to the slaughterhouse (step 2). This was likely because the animals selected at the end of step 1 by the Rabbis for the religious rite are usually the most docile and gentle. View Full-Text
Keywords: cortisol; dopamine; norepinephrine; epinephrine; animal welfare cortisol; dopamine; norepinephrine; epinephrine; animal welfare
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Bozzo, G.; Barrasso, R.; Marchetti, P.; Roma, R.; Samoilis, G.; Tantillo, G.; Ceci, E. Analysis of Stress Indicators for Evaluation of Animal Welfare and Meat Quality in Traditional and Jewish Slaughtering. Animals 2018, 8, 43.

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