New provisions for non-emergency slaughter of food animals on producer premises

Process summary for cattle and swine producers

Ontario's Meat Regulation (O. Reg. 31/05 under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001) has been changed to provide options for cattle and swine producers who want to slaughter animals on their farm and have the carcasses processed off the farm. This processing can only be conducted in a provincially licensed slaughter plant or provincially licensed free standing meat plant. The products can only be consumed by the producer and their immediate family on the premises where the animal was slaughtered. Products cannot be sold, shared, donated or distributed.

How it works for cattle and swine producers

The process required under the regulation is designed to help producers ensure their animals are slaughtered humanely in hygienic conditions, and that the resulting carcasses are fit to enter a meat plant. Only bovine under thirty months of age (UTM) and swine are eligible under these provisions.

An examiner certified for non-emergency, on-farm slaughter may provide stunning, slaughter and dressing services, and must perform ante mortem and post mortem examinations. The examiner also ensures humane animal handling and sanitary dressing. Producers may conduct the stunning, slaughter and dressing processes themselves if they wish, under the supervision of a certified examiner.

Producers can still slaughter and process carcasses on the farm without the supervision or use of an examiner as long as the meat does not leave the premise and is consumed only by the producer and his/her immediate family.

To be able to send their carcass to a provincially licensed meat plant for processing, producers must follow the steps outlined below with the help of, and/or under the supervision of a certified on-farm slaughter examiner.

Prior to slaughter day:

  • Contact a certified examiner and determine a slaughter date and time; provide details about the animal you want slaughtered and enquire about the examiner's fee;
  • Contact a provincially licensed meat plant to make arrangements for processing; the plant must be approved by an OMAFRA regional veterinarian to receive carcasses slaughtered on-farm on the selected date.

On slaughter day, on the producer's premises, upon arrival of the certified examiner:

  • Fill out Part 1 of the Non-Emergency Slaughter Examination Record, which the examiner will provide;
  • Present the live animal to the examiner for examination (ante mortem examination); the examiner will either approve it or refuse it for post morem examination; the examiner must, in specific cases, refer the animal to an OMAFRA regional veterinarian. If possible, the examiner conducts bovine aging during the ante mortem examination;
  • Stun the animal to render it unconscious (mechanical penetrating device or rifle are the only permitted options); this can be done by the producer or the certified examiner;
  • Slaughter the animal immediately after stunning under the supervision of the certified examiner, or have the examiner perform the slaughter;
  • Dress the carcass. This includes: removing the head, respiratory, digestive, reproductive and urinary systems, including the kidneys and other thoracic and abdominal organs; this can be done by the producer or the examiner;
  • Present the required viscera and the carcass to the examiner for examination (post-mortem examination). The examiner will perform an assessment. Based on this assessment, the examiner either :
    • determines that the carcass is fit to enter a meat plant and stamps the carcass with the examination stamp, attaches a numbered leg band to the carcass and prepares the certificate to enter a meat plant; or
    • refuses to allow the carcass to enter a meat plant and must, in specific cases, refer the carcass to a regional veterinarian.

The examiner will also conduct bovine aging at this time if this was not done during ante mortem examination.

Once slaughter, dressing and examination are completed and the carcass is approved to enter a meat plant:

  • Dispose of head, offal and blood on the farm through one of the legal disposal options that can be used on-farm under Regulation 263 of the Dead Animal Disposal Act. These are:
    • Composting under 60 cm (2 feet) of organic substrate, such as straw or sawdust; or
    • Burying under 60 cm (2 feet) of soil and away from all waterways
  • Transport the carcass to the selected, approved meat plant. Only the producer or the examiner can transport the carcass, and they must follow the transport requirements. Carcasses or parts of carcasses must :
    • be transported to a provincially licensed meat plant approved by a regional veterinarian
    • have a stamp, leg band and certificate
    • be transported in a clean, leak-proof container
    • be securely fastened to the container
    • be protected from contaminants
    • not be exposed to public view, and
    • if hide has been removed, be thoroughly washed and wrapped in a material that is durable, free of contaminants and suitable for packaging products (for example, plastic food wrap)

A meat plant operator must inspect for contamination upon receipt of the carcass. Meat plants are permitted to perform the following:

  • skinning
  • removal of feet
  • cutting
  • wrapping
  • freezing
  • minor processing including:
    • grinding of beef and pork
    • bacon, ham and sausage processing of pork

All products must be returned to the producer within 28 days.

Restrictions

Producers should be aware of the following restrictions:

  • Only bovine animals under 30 months of age (UTM) and porcine animals are eligible to enter a meat plant under this provision.
  • On-farm slaughter must be conducted humanely and in hygienic conditions.
  • Carcasses can only be transferred to and from a provincially licensed meat plant.
  • All products must be for consumption by the producer and his or her immediate family on the producer's premises where the animal was slaughtered. OMAFRA will monitor the number of animals slaughtered per producer and per farm under this provision. Products cannot be sold, shared or donated.
  • Verify availability with your selected plant, as plants are only allowed to accept on-farm slaughtered carcasses up to a total of 16 weeks per year: a maximum of four weeks during the spring period (March 1 to April 30) and a maximum of 12 weeks during the fall period (September 1 to December 31). In 2008, the program will be available starting September 15.
  • Certified examiners are permitted to slaughter or supervise slaughter of any bovine or porcine animals on the producer's premises outside of the specified timeframes; however these carcasses are not permitted to enter a meat plant and must stay on the producer's premises, for the producer's and their immediate family's consumption. Records of such slaughter must be kept by the examiner and provided to OMAFRA upon request.
  • Producers may decide that they no longer want to send the carcass of an animal to a meat plant, and may opt out of the process at any point except:
    • from the time the animal is presented for ante mortem to the conclusion of the ante mortem examination; and
    • from the time the carcass is presented for post mortem to the conclusion of the post mortem examination; and
    • for the need to comply with any decision or orders that are made in connection with ante and post mortem examinations, including any orders for condemnation.
  • Producers should be aware that, as a result of the examination process, the carcass may be condemned for food safety reasons.

For additional information, or to obtain a list of certified on-farm slaughter examiners and a list of approved meat plants, visit OMAFRA's website.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 24 April 2008
Last Reviewed: 24 April 2008