23 JULY 1927, Page 18


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

Sin,—With reference to your article on " The Humane Slaughter of Animals " in a recent issue, at least one regular reader would be interested to know your authority for the allegations yoti make of " needless pain " under existing conditions in the slaughter of sheep.—I am, Sir, &c., W. H.

[In the existing conditions of sheep slaughter the head is extended and a sharp pointed knife is thrust through the throat, the main arteries thus being cut : the head is then forced back to break the spinal cord. The operation takes from five to fifteen seconds in the hands of the expert—but much longer when the operator is a novice, and no other means except practice on the living animal can produce the expert. Professor Starling states that during this period the pain is very severe, as in fact it must be : proof of con- sciousness during the period is afforded by the corneal reflex test, so commonly used by surgeons in operations. Possibly the fact that sheep (unlike pigs) make no cry in their agony may give the impression to the slaughterman that no pain is being inflicted.—ED. Spectator.]