Kentucky meat plant cited, penalized after cow shot in the head 4 times

Tribune Content Agency

A Kentucky meatpacking plant faced federal discipline in May after a cow was shot in the head four times while it vocalized pain and continued to get back up on its feet, records show.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture investigated C & W Meat Packers in Cynthiana, Ky., after someone at the meatpacking plant attempted an “ineffective stun attempt” on a cow with a .22 magnum rifle on May 8, according to the USDA’s investigation. The animal raised its head, remained on four feet and “consciously vocalized,” according to the investigation.

The second and third shots dropped the cow to its front knees, but it continued to stand back up until the fourth shot, according to the investigation.

The assignment of federal inspectors at the facility was suspended, according to the USDA investigation. According to the government, “slaughter facilities cannot conduct slaughter operations if inspection personnel are not present.”

C & W Meat Packers was asked to respond to the USDA in writing to identify and evaluate the “root cause” of the incident, to explain what was done to eliminate the cause of the incident and to describe steps taken to prevent future incidents. The USDA said C & W Meat Packers already had a “written robust animal handling plan in place.”

C & W Meat Packers sent three letters to the USDA detailing their corrective actions, and all three were deemed “not adequate,” according to the USDA’s investigation. The fourth response, provided on May 28, met requirements. The plant’s suspension was lifted on May 29.

C & W Meat Packers’ corrective actions included new regulations for ammo storage, gun cleaning and safety as well as a training refresher and more guidelines for employees slaughtering animals.

PETA sent C & W Meat Packers a letter urging the plant to stop slaughtering cows and livestream video footage from the facility or butcher only wild animals that have been hit by cars and salvaged. PETA also asked the plant to reassign employees involved in the investigated incident and report them to local law enforcement.

“In light of the egregious pain and terror that your staff caused this cow to endure in violation of federal law, won’t you please stop slaughtering these animals? Rather than risk committing similar violations in the future, you could focus on minimizing the stress and suffering of the other farmed animals you slaughter,” Colin Henstock, PETA’s assistant manager of investigations, said in the letter.

C & W Meat Packers declined to comment on the letter and the investigation.


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