Months-Old Calves Tormented and Killed at French Slaughterhouse

In a new investigation by animal advocacy group L214, months-old calves are cut at the throat while fully conscious and thrash in agony as they bleed out.



Between November and December 2019, an investigator collected footage in one of France’s largest calf slaughterhouses. There, calves are killed at a staggering rate of 2,400 per week, or 90 per hour.

The meat, exported to Israel, Egypt, Japan, and the United States, is certified organic and Label Rouge—a sign of “quality assurance” in France. The calves’ hides are sold to tanneries that supply leather to luxury brands.

Birth and Life

Shortly after they are born, the calves are separated from their mothers. They are placed in small individual cages, where they live until they are big enough for slaughter. The calves are never allowed to feel the sun or grass. After several weeks, they are killed by one of two agonizing methods.


Method 1. Cut Throats

Terrified calves are forced into a “stun” box. Many struggle to free themselves. Some are rotated onto their backs before their throats are slit, while others are forced to stand and then collapse in the stun box as they bleed.

In the video, a worker slices a calf’s neck using a sawing motion, making the process even more painful. Some calves are shot with a captive-bolt pistol afterwards, and some are not—but most are fully conscious as their throats are slit.


Some animals show signs of regained consciousness at stages in the process. One after another, calves hang in the air, struggling in agony as blood and sometimes vomit pour from their open necks.

Method 2. Pistol Shots

Method two is every bit as horrifying. As they await their turn in the stun box, many calves witness other babies bleeding to death. Once forced inside, calves are stunned with a large pneumatic pistol—which does not require recharging between animals. In the footage, a calf struggles to escape as a worker fires the pistol several times, blowing holes into the calf’s head. The calf fights to live but finally loses consciousness.

Many calves regain consciousness after exiting the stun box, frantically attempting to stand on trembling legs.


What Can You Do?

You can make a difference for calves and other animals by choosing more plant-based meals. Get started by ordering your FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide today. You can also help animals by checking out Mercy For Animals’ recent investigations, such as our investigations into live export and the California dairy industry, and signing the petitions.
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