Assessment of the knowledge, attitudes and practices of animal handlers on the pre-slaughter welfare of sheep and goats in selected abattoirs in Kampala
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Sheep and goats suffer various welfare stresses during the time they spend at abattoirs before they can be slaughtered. This study aimed to assess animal handlers in two abattoirs in Kampala for their knowledge, attitudes and practices on the pre-slaughter welfare of sheep and goats. These animal handlers included traders, transporters and caretakers in Kalerwe Slaughterhouse and Kampala City abattoir. This was a cross-sectional study and obtained responses using a pre-tested structured questionnaire. 72 respondents took part in this study and were selected randomly from the two abattoirs. The questionnaire had four sections; the first section assessed the socio-demographic characteristics of the participants. The second and third sections aimed at evaluating animal welfare knowledge and attitudes respectively. Results were transferred from the questionnaire to Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet. The data was then exported to Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software for analysis. Majority of the respondents agreed that sheep and goats have feelings (40.28%), followed by 34.72% who strongly agreed, and they also agreed that they suffer from pain when grossly mishandled (48.6%) followed by 25% who strongly agreed. However, majority of the respondents (40.28%) weren’t sure about the effect of pre-slaughter stress on meat quality. In addition, majority of the respondents (50%) weren’t sure whether there were any benefits to the consumer if they had meat from sheep and goat accorded good pre-slaughter welfare, and an additional 18% disagreed. Majority of the respondents disagreed with the statement that sheep and goats shouldn’t be transported for more than 12 hours continuously. Generally, the responses to the rest of the attitude questions were good and indicated good attitudes towards the pre-slaughter welfare of sheep and goats. Majority of the respondents (44.44%) agreed that it was good to feed and water sheep and goats kept alive at the abattoir beyond 12 hours, and to clean their environment for their comfort. However apart from these responses, the rest of the questions were poorly answered indicating poor welfare practices by these respondents. In this study, generally, the respondents demonstrated a good level of knowledge on the pre-slaughter welfare of sheep and goats, and good attitudes but poor practices. Level of education, religion and age were found not to be significant influencers of the respondents’ attitudes. Sensitization campaigns, improved supervision of animal handlers by veterinarians, health inspectors and police, and more research on the subject are suggested recommendations.