Slaughterhouse

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A slaughterhouse or abattoir is a facility where animals are processed for consumption as food products.

Approximately 45-50% of the animal can be turned into edible products (meat). About 15% are waste, and the remaining 40-45% of the animal are turned into byproducts such as leather, soaps, candles (tallow), and adhesives. In the United States, around nine billion animals are slaughtered every year[1] (this includes about 150.4 million cattle, bison, sheep, hogs, and goats and 8.9 billion chickens, turkeys, and ducks) in 5,700 slaughterhouses and processing plants employing 527,000 workers;[2] in 2007, 28.1 billion pounds of beef were consumed in the U.S. alone.[3] In Canada, 650 million animals are killed annually.[4] In the European Union, the annual figure is 300 million cattle, sheep, and pigs, and four billion chickens.[5]

Slaughterhouses which process meat unfit for human consumption are sometimes referred to as Knacker's yards or Knackeries.

Slaughtering animals on a large scale poses significant logistical problems and public health concerns, with public aversion to meat packing in many cultures influencing the location of slaughterhouses. In addition, some religions stipulate certain conditions for the slaughter of animals so that practices within slaughterhouses vary.

There has been criticism of the methods of preparation, herding, and killing within some slaughterhouses, and in particular of the speed with which the slaughter is sometimes conducted. Investigations by animal welfare and animal rights groups have indicated that a proportion of these animals are being skinned or gutted while apparently still alive and conscious.[6] There has also been criticism of the methods of transport of the animals, who are driven for hundreds of miles to slaughterhouses in conditions that often result in crush injuries and death en route.[7] Slaughtering animals is opposed by most vegetarians and animal rights groups on ethical grounds.

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