“A slaughterhouse is worse than you can imagine from outside”! An interview with Ex-Veterinarian Nicole T.


The animal industry likes to say that fattening and slaughterhouses are reliably controlled. But again, and again, animal welfare organizations discover that controls fail – even those by veterinarians.

Nicole T. worked for 10 years as a veterinarian in slaughterhouses, supervised the slaughter processes, controlled according to the animal welfare and hygiene requirements. Hardly anybody can do this job for more than 10 years, once a colleague said to her, then many are a case for the psychiatrist afterwards!!

Nicole told us about her experiences at the slaughterhouse: where and why specifications, personnel and equipment fail – and also how she became a vegan through this work and was able to do it for so long.



“The unloading and drifting of the animals is almost always degenerated into torments and beating. But THAT is absolute standard” (Nicole T)

Nicole, you have been a vegetarian since you were 10, you have been vegan for years. Under these circumstances, how did you work in the slaughterhouse?


I have never actively applied for it. When I wanted to open a small animal practice at that time, the official veterinarian asked me to also take over a representative in the meat inspection. Although I told him that as a vegetarian I did not feel called to do so, he said that was my problem. Ultimately, the work was a reliable source of income.
At first, I only did hygiene checks in a company that packed curry sausages and the like. And that is the deciding factor for many veterinarians, because a regulated income is no way the norm in the profession. Only later did I represent a colleague in a pig slaughterhouse. And then I went home crying on the first day, I showered hot for hours and tried to get that taste out of my mouth.

In view of this extreme experience, what led you to continue to take over the slaughterhouse supervision as a veterinarian?


If you know what to expect, the moment of shock will at least subside. And you’re no longer just paralyzed around: In the beginning, someone has to constantly pull you aside so that you do not get knocked over by a swishy half pig or run into someone’s knife. And of course, you ask yourself, what am I doing here anyway? However, I quickly realized: If there is any place where an animal rights activist makes sense, then it is in the slaughterhouse. During my work, I tried to get people there to do their job in a way that complies with current law. Which is difficult enough …

In what way?

In the farm where I carried out the surveillance, the pigs were stunned with electric tongs. The default is that the animals then have to be pulled up within a few seconds and bleed with a stab into the carotid artery. That’s a very short time span. The point is that the stunned animals will not wake up if they stay too long. But that’s just the theory. In practice, the animals were usually not sufficiently stunned after applying the forceps.

How did that come to mistreatment?

Either because the stream did not flow properly because the animals were not wet enough and did not manage the wet properly. Or the animals were too wet, and the stream was superficially drained. Or the pliers was not set correctly, just because of too much turmoil or because a butcher had not paid attention. There was almost always a reason that it did not work properly.



“You can see the animals understand that they have been cheated. That they should go to their deaths. They can not believe it then. This is not much different with animals than with humans” (Nicole T)


The electric stunning is therefore very “error-prone” in itself?

Yes, because the anesthetic only works when the brain is completely perfused. And even then, it takes a while for the pigs to be unconscious.

And the specifications of the slaughter procedure ignore this error proneness?

Yes. If the pigs have been left for a while after being stunned, until the next pig is anesthetized, they are usually no longer unconscious, but probably just dead – dead from heart failure. There is no animal standing up again. If they were then pulled up and bleeding, contrary to the actual specification, they did not realize the slaughter. But if the workers pulled them up the same as the law says, then they were very often conscious. One recognizes that therefore they still blink. And then the slaughter is practically manholes (shaft), a bleeding in consciousness. These pigs were then fully aware and have all realized.



How did you handle it?

I said to the butchers: We’ll leave them until they’re dead. After this brief minute, bleeding is still possible without affecting meat quality or hygiene. That was the only animal welfare thing I could do here. And this was possible, because it was a small business and I was the only veterinarian. I was able to prevail – not like in larger companies, where you have no more your job as a veterinarian, if you even complained.


Both animal industry and authorities claim that everything is always well controlled. This regular failure of the anesthetic method would then have noticed the veterinary office at some point, or not?

In fact, at some point a “task force” came from the veterinary office. When they checked the equipment back then, I said to my superiors: If we stick to the guidelines, the method will not work. Her answer was, but it is done everywhere, it has always been done, and so it would probably be good enough for me.


Incredible …

After a few years, a second task force arrived, this time with high-tech measuring instruments. This time the result was: The animals would not be sufficiently stunned. So, the veterinary office told the slaughterhouse owner to get a new stunning device for tens of thousands of euros. Because it would be allegedly on the old device. When the new one arrived, it became clear that it did not work either.


You say that by driving of the animals the biggest problems and the worst abuses exist?

Yes, because as long as the animals are alive, there can only be problems. After slaughtering come the hygienic, but that’s another topic. The worst thing was that animals were often not transportable or better: would have been. And then came the unloading and bustle – by employees who almost never understood it. It has almost always degenerated into torments and beating: by employees who severely abuse animals with anything sharp, pointed and painful in the last 100 meters. But that’s the absolute standard.


The industry relies on cheaper labor?

Clear. Often, they also came from an environment where many things are more casual in this job. And here to clarify other rules, was difficult: when I saw workers pushing cattle into the slaughterhouse and beating the animal, I not only have to make it clear that we’re not doing it that way, but also how we do it instead. The language problems made that much more difficult.

What happens if, as a veterinarian, I report an animal welfare breach?

When I do that, as a veterinarian I literally have theater up to the trial date for about half a year. Until then I will be bullied by the slaughterhouse operator and after all this time I have to prove that something really went wrong. And there will be no witnesses among the staff because they are all worried about their job. Often enough, the whole thing then runs into the void – and I, as a veterinarian, had all the trouble in vain. That’s frustrating.

One time I made a complaint about a cow that was brought to the slaughterhouse the day the birth of her calf was due. This is forbidden. But the farmer and a district administrator were very good friends. And in the end, they have it so regulated that the farmer had to pay 200 euros penalty: That saved him the official entry.

Und I, myself, just got embarrassed.

So, in a sense, I understand that many veterinarians do not report on animal welfare violations. It’s not only exhausting, it’s often meaningless.

With all that you tell me, I have to ask you this question: How did you last that job for so long?

I could only stand it for so long because I tried to counter it and help the animals – the victims – as much as possible. In addition, I ransomed many animals, in the beginning still legal, later I had to do a little trick. Actually, for epidemiological reasons, nothing that has ever entered a slaughterhouse in the EU should leave it alive again.


How could you buy the animals out?

Often it happened still on the van, that was a gray area. But the veterinary office became more and more restrictive, the slaughterhouse operator reacted more and more hostile … And then the point was reached, in which I noticed, now I cannot really achieve much. In addition, almost all old workers were eventually terminated or they left voluntarily. Instead, there were more foreign employees who spoke almost no German. It was almost impossible to communicate with them about how to handle and interact with the animals.

If the system of the animal industry is not only based on animal suffering, but also protects animal suffering, how do you assess the work of animal welfare organizations?


As unreservedly good and important. Consumers need to see what happens in slaughterhouses and livestock farms, because if we are honest, without the consumers, all of this would not exist. But they are kept away from everything, after all they should not spoil their taste. But if consumers do not see these images, if their appetites are not spoiled, the system will continue to work.

And it’s worse than you can imagine from outside.

The interview has been translated from the website of Animal Equality.
I don`t know Nicole T, but I say from here, and in the name of the animals, a heartfelt “Thank you Nicole”.
For her dedication, her courage, and her interview.

Best regards to all







One Response

  1. No limit to the shame.

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