Earlier this week Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz wrote an article for his Huff post blog in which he argues for a mandate to stun all animals immediately after kosher slaughter. I do agree that post shechita (kosher slaughter) stunning is something that should be better incorporated into Jewish slaughter practices and also agree that it is halachikly (legally) permissible. Although, things certainly get quite complicated and controversial when discussing immediate post shechita stunning. Leaving the halachik conversation aside and also leaving aside the fact that post shechita stunning (though not immediate) is sometimes used in kosher slaughter of cattle in the US, I very much worry that creating such a mandate would actually inadvertently cause as many or even more welfare issues as it solves. But what I found disturbing enough to write this piece in response to his article was not so much Rabbi Yanklowitz’s call for stunning but rather the many unsubstantiated and verbose claims he made about the effects of shechita.Espousing these statements while pushing for a universal mandate, a step that the rabbinic authorities are unwilling to take, will not only serve to further miseducate an already confused public it will also push the Rabbinic leadership further away from what could be helpful stunning practices.
Many people are quick to criticize kosher slaughter and whist there are certain welfare concerns involved inshechitathere are also very tangible welfare benefits. Thiswhole discussion is quite complex and is not something I can cover in one post, so as it is Poultry Month, I am going to focus this piece on issues concerning poultry. Often when this conversation comes up, people seem to focus their attention on cow slaughter, which is the most difficult form of shechita to perform effectively. It is very much possible to achieve, but is often fraught with problems, especially outside the United States. When it comes to poultry, however, most non-kosher production plants have serious welfare issues. Comparatively, the methods used for kosher slaughter are arguably more ethical, reliable and consistent.
When I heard that this year’s Hazon food Conference would be focusing on poultry I quickly made up my mind to help provide heritage chicken for the event. The only problem is that there hasn’t been a run of USDA certified kosher heritage chicken processed in the US for as many as 60 or 70 years so I knew this might be a bit a of a challenge. But I’ve never let obstacles like this stop me in the past and I certainly wasn’t gonna start now. To make it all happen I would need birds, a slaughterhouse and a way to deliver the chickens from place to place. I had already established a relationship with a small kosher plant and knew I could rely on heritage poultry farmer Frank Reese to provide the chickens. The one problem would be getting the chickens from Frank’s farm in Kansas halfway across they country to a slaughterhouse in upstate NY. But I figured that I could work that little detail out later so I just checked in with the plant and Frank before pitching the idea to Hazon and they accepted.
Turkeys enjoy the freezing weather (left) at Good Shepard Poultry while Frank speaks to a reporter from the Wall Street Journal (middle)
Barred Rock (sides) & Jersey Giant (middle) chickens which we brought to slaughter brave 15 degree weather on the day before the drive.
I've been busy writing a thanksgiving themed turkey post for The Jew and the Carrot, which will be coming out next week. In the meantime I've decided to highlight some awesome websites, articles, books and resources which all those interested in poultry should check out.
"The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business" By Christopher Leonard This well researched and expertly written work breaks down how Tyson foods rose from a small family run business during the depression to a multinational corporation that changed the way the world eats meat. Awe inspiring and terribly disturbing all at once this book is and essential tool for understanding the issues within the poultry and general meat business today.
Hello, Welcome to the world's only blog focusing exclusively on the topics of kosher slaughter, kosher meat and animal welfare. My name is Yadidya Greenberg and I'm a Kosher Omnivore on a mission. A mission to create a better world for animals and people. I'm a certified shochet (kosher ritual slaughterer, and animal welfare advocate & educator. Follow the blog as I journey into the depths of the human-animal relationship.