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Many developing countries have common problems concerning animal welfare, particularly in the livestock slaughter sector. These problems include handling of livestock, transport, pre-slaughter penning, stunning and bleeding.

The issues of humane treatment of slaughter animals in these countries are of growing importance because:

· In recent decades there has been an increased demand for livestock products, particularly meats;

· Meat output in developing countries now considerably exceeds that in developed countries, resulting in increasing numbers of animals slaughtered;

· Developing countries with a potential for exporting meat, where humane treatment of slaughter animals is not satisfactorily practised, will have to comply with sanitary and welfare requirements of importing countries;

· Humane treatment of slaughter animals not only reduces unnecessary suffering but also reduces loss of quality and value of meat and animal by-products, thus contributing to food security and income in most needy countries;

· Many developing countries have poorly developed and implemented welfare legislation, resulting in harsh conditions for livestock and excessive suffering.

FAO budgetary resources, mainly designated to maximise agricultural production in the food, crop and livestock sectors in developing countries, can provide only limited funds for livestock welfare. Changes in developing countries towards more humane treatment of slaughter stock must come about by joint efforts of governments, producers, the meat industry and desirably also with the help of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). However, FAO in cooperation with NGOs could be in a position to co-ordinate these efforts as well as provide technical advice and assistance.

This publication is provided as a joint effort between FAO and the NGO Humane Society International (HSI), to offer guidance to animal welfare personnel, transport operators, farmers and slaughterhouse management etc. in improving slaughter, livestock productivity and welfare.

The authors are Philip G. Chambers (formerly Deputy Director of Veterinary Public Health, Department of Veterinary Services, Bulawayo/Zimbabwe), Temple Grandin (Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University, USA), Gunter Heinz (Animal Production Officer, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok/Thailand) and Thinnarat Srisuvan (Veterinary Officer, Department of Livestock Development, Bangkok/Thailand).

Illustrations were contributed by P.G. Chambers (Fig. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 29, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 43, 45, 47, 49, 53, 55, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 73, 74), T. Grandin (Fig. 11, 13), G. Heinz (Fig. 1, 6, 16, 18, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 33, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 57, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 75, 76, 77) and HSI (Fig. 51).

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