Slaughterers slaughter animals and process carcasses for further processing and distribution.
The duties of a slaughterer include, but are not limited to:
- operating switching controls to direct and drop carcasses and meat cuts from supply rails to boning tables
- cutting meat to separate meat, fat and tissue from around bones
- washing, scraping and trimming foreign material and blood from meat
- cutting sides and quarters of meat into standard meat cuts, such as rumps, flanks and shoulders, and removing internal fat, blood clots, bruises and other matter to prepare them for packing and marketing
- operating restrainer and stunning equipment
- severing jugular veins of stunned animals to drain blood and facilitate dressing
- trimming and removing head meat and severing animal heads
- slitting open, eviscerating and trimming animal carcasses
- may slaughter livestock according to procedures required by religious customs
The following job titles also refer to slaughterer:
animal slaughterhouse worker
No formal educational credential is generally required to work as a slaughterer.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Slaughterer is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Slaughterer career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to slaughterer.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of slaughterer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of slaughterer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of slaughterer.
- Legislation about animal origin products: The applicable legal rules on temperature, waste materials, traceability, labelling, trading, and the transport of animal origin products.
- Warm blooded animal organs: The difference between white and red organs of warm blooded animals and their position in the body. A white organ can be the stomach, red organs can be the heart, the liver, or the lungs. The norms to treat these organs properly.
- Documentation concerning meat production: Understand legal identification documents and marks which cover animal movement, identification, and health status. Understand information in commercial books of meat production.
- Cultural practices regarding animal slaughter: Understand cultural or religious rules and traditions regarding the slaughter of animals.
- Animal anatomy for food production: The anatomy of animals, their organs and their functions, as well as the usage of these organs for food production after slaughtering.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of slaughterer.
- Slaughter animals: Sever the carotid artery or stab through the heart of an animal to kill it. Allow all the blood to drain from the animal. Collect blood for food, feed or other industrial purposes.
- Maintain cutting equipment: Maintenance of the cutting equipment (knives, cutters, and other elements).
- Tolerate strong smells: Tolerate strong smells expelled by the goods being processed during the production of goods.
- Ensure sanitation: Keep workspaces and equipment free from dirt, infection, and disease by removing waste, trash and providing for appropriate cleaning.
- Monitor the identification of animals: Monitor the identification of animals that come in the slaughterhouse. Assure the correct procedures for legal, quality, and administrative procedures in order to maintain identification and traceability during the manufacturing process.
- Mark differences in colours: Identify differences between colours, such as shades of colour.
- Ensure animal welfare in slaughtering practices: Respect the needs of livestock and apply the regulations regarding animal welfare in the meat and meat products manufacturing sector. Respond correctly to animal issues from unloading until stunning of the animals.
- Clean carcasses: Remove organs, fats sticking hole, spinal cord, and diaphragm from carcasses. Perform cleaning of the carcass following established procedures in order to obtain a final carcass presentation.
- Apply HACCP: Apply regulations regarding manufacture of food and food safety compliance. Employ food safety procedures based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP).
- Deal with killing animals processes: Cope with the process of slaughtering and handling carcasses without distress.
- Process livestock organs: Process livestock organs and other byproducts for meat manufacturing processes. Remove organs from carcasses and perform activities such as cutting or dividing parts, washing organs, execute specific treatments, packaging, and labelling.
- Skin animals: Skin animals in an appropriate manner considering the end purpose of the skin. Strip off the hide of an animal to prepare for processing the carcass, or to use the skin or fur. Use case skinning for smaller animals, where an incision is made around the feet and the skin stripped off like a sock. If a non-invasive slaughter method like gassing or beating was used on a fur animal, take care to ensure that the animal is dead prior to skinning. Use open skinning for large animals, where an incision is made along the abdomen. Use the required equipment for skinning.
- Cope with blood: Cope with blood, organs, and other internal parts without feeling distressed.
- Operate slaughterhouse equipment: Operate slaughterhouse equipment for slaughtering warm-blooded animals, such as stunning equipment and gut room equipment. Use the equipment according to the requirements.
- Follow hygienic procedures during food processing: Ensure a clean working space according to hygienic standards in the food processing industry.
- Prepare meat products for shipping: Prepare carcasses, edible meat products, and non edible offal by weighing, packaging, labelling and loading on meat wagons for shipping.
- Control animals in distress: Control distressed or panicked animals safely and without harm to the animal to be slaughtered.
- Lift heavy weights: Lift heavy weights and apply ergonomic lifting techniques to avoid damaging the body.
- Tend meat processing production machines: Operate production equipment and tools to process meat and meat products.
- Weigh animals for food manufacturing: Weigh and classify bodies of animals and assign the carcass to a slaughterhouse customer.
- Apply requirements concerning manufacturing of food and beverages: Apply and follow national, international, and internal requirements quoted in standards, regulations and other specifications related with manufacturing of food and beverages.
- Apply GMP: Apply regulations regarding manufacture of food and food safety compliance. Employ food safety procedures based on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
- Cope with excrements: Cope with excrements, strong smells, and animal waste without feeling overwhelmed.
- Monitor temperature in manufacturing process of food and beverages: Monitor and control required temperatures in the different phases of production until the product reaches suitable properties according to specifications.
- Suspend animals: Suspend animals for food processing and move the carcasses around the slaughterhouse on an animal processing line.
- Handle meat processing equipment in cooling rooms: Push and put carcasses in and out the cooling room as specified. Use equipment specific to this room to handle meat and meat products.
- Handle knives used in slaughtering processes: Use various types of knives and cutters for slaughtering processes. Use techniques for the usage of the knives. Select the right knives for the job at hand. Care for the knives.
- Inspect animal carcasses: Inspect the animal carcasses for non conformities such abscesses or contamination, and correct them if possible. Takes samples for laboratory inspection. Makes registrations of non-conformities and/or findings.
- Split animal carcasses: Separate animal carcasses and organs into larger subsections such as head and limbs, debone and cut them.
- Stun animals: Stun animals for slaughter according to the type of animals, and following regulations regarding animal welfare. Strive to minimise the incidence of consciousness recovery within time limits.
- Operate in slaughterhouse installations: Operate in slaughterhouse installations where skinning, opening, removing organs, splitting, and carcass processing are performed.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of slaughterer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Food storage: The proper conditions and methods to store food to keep it from spoiling, taking into account humidity, light, temperature and other environmental factors.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of slaughterer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Operate cutting equipment: Operate cutting equipment specific to the activities undergone in this phase of slaughtering and meat processing. Use machinery, chainsaws, knives, and separators to open animal carcasses and separate these into parts for processing.
- Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
- Manage challenging work conditions during food processing operations: Handle stressful and challenging work conditions in a limited time frame to ensure qualitative food and beverage products are created in time.
- Act reliably: Proceed in a way that one can be relied on or depended on.
- Slaughter livestock following cultural practices: Slaughter livestock complying with religious and cultural practices.
- Keep inventory of goods in production: Keep inventory of goods whether they are goods in the front end (i.e. raw materials), intermediate, or back end (i.e. finished products). Count goods and store them for the following production and distribution activities.
- Follow an environmental friendly policy while processing food: Assure an environmental-friendly policy when working with natural resources like meat, fruits and vegetables. This means handling resources in the most efficient and nature-friendly way while trying to minimalise pressure on the ecosystem.
- Liaise with colleagues: Liaise with fellow colleagues to ensure common understanding on work related affairs and agree on the necessary compromises the parties might need to face. Negotiate compromises between parties as to ensure that work in general run efficiently towards the achievement of the objectives.
- Adapt efficient food processing practices: Ensure to adapt the most efficient production techniques to accomplish food processing tasks with the least amount of time, effort and costs.
- Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.
- Consider economic criteria in decision making: Develop proposals and take appropriate decisions taking into account economic criteria.
- Work in cold environments: Work in cold storage and deep freeze facilities. Cooling rooms are around 0°C. Resist temperatures of -18°C in meat processing freezer facilities as required by law, except for the slaughterhouse, where room working temperatures are below 12°C by law.
- Dispose food waste: Dispose or collect food waste with the purpose of recycling or throwing away from the production process. Follow established procedures for their disposal taking care of the environment and the safety matters according to legislations.
- Work in a food processing team: Collaborate in a team with other food processing professionals in service of the food and beverages industry.
- Liaise with managers: Liaise with managers of other departments ensuring effective service and communication, i.e. sales, planning, purchasing, trading, distribution and technical.
- Ensure compliance with environmental legislation in food production: Make sure to comply with environmental legislation in food production. Understand the legislation related to environmental matters in food manufacturing and apply it in practice.
- Label samples: Label raw material/ product samples for laboratory checks, according to implemented quality system.
ISCO group and title
7511 – Butchers, fishmongers and related food preparers
- Slaughterer – ESCO
- Slaughterer – Your Career
- Meat Boners and Slicers, and Slaughterers | Labour Market Insights
- Featured image: By L214 – Ethique & Animaux, CC BY 3.0