September 20, 2010

Dr. Temple Grandin Reaffirms Humaneness of Kosher Schechita

New York…The Daf Hakashrus, the monthly newsletter for the OU rabbinic field representative, usually features articles and essays on kashrus by rabbinic figures. The July-August edition, however, featured a surprise guest on its front page: Dr. Temple Grandin, the highly regarded expert on animal welfare. After affirming the humaneness of kosher schechita, Dr. Grandin takes issue with a new study in New Zealand that seemed to conclude that schechita causes pain to animals. Writes Dr. Grandin: “I have observed that cattle held in an upright restraint device had almost no reaction to correctly done slaughter that was performed with a special long knife.” She responds to those who advocate stunning the animals before schechita by saying that from her observations “it appears that when good practices are used, the steer or lamb will stay still and not react to the cut.” In a bold response to a New Zealand study that concluded that slaughter without stunning causes pain, Dr. Grandin said that the knife in the study was shorter than those used in schechita, uncertainty whether the wound was kept open like in schechita, and the sharpening of the knives was done by a mechanical device rather than on a whetstone. It was studies like these that led to the banning of schechita in New Zealand. Dr. Grandin is the designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. Facilities she has designed are located in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.