Slaughtering Services

Slaughtering Services

The Public Abattoir is the only provider of services related to the slaughter for bovines, swine, equines and small ruminants in Malta. [1]


Animals are slaughtered in one of the two slaughtering lines within the abattoir, according to a pre-established weekly schedule. Slaughter is carried out in a humane manner in line with international animal welfare standards. The Public Abattoir adopts a two-step process, whereby the animal is first rendered unconscious and consequently not sensitive to pain. Bovines, small ruminants and equines are stunned using a captive bolt. Swine is stunned through asphyxiation, using Carbon Dioxide. Animals are slaughtered whilst unconscious.

Dressing and presentation of the carcase

Following slaughter, carcasses are dressed in line with international veterinary standards and EU regulations. Bovines, small ruminants and equines are de-hided (the skin is removed mechanically and/or manually), while swine is de-haired (carcases are scalded and the bristles singed off).  Hence, the carcase is split into two and the offals are removed.

Bovine carcases are presented in line with EU Regulation 1249/2008. Article 13 of that regulation establishes that bovine carcases shall be presented without the removal of external fat, the neck being cut in accordance with veterinary requirements and without: Kidneys and kidney fat; Pelvic fat; Thin skirt; Thick skirt; Tail; Spinal cord; Cod fat; Fat on the inside of topside; Jugular vein and the adjacent fat. The removal of external fat mandatorily involves only the partial removal of external fat: from the haunch, the sirloin and the middle ribs; from the point end of brisket, the outer ano-genital area and the tail; and from the topside. The presentation standard for swine carcases is established by EU Regulation 1308/2013 which establishes that “carcasses shall be presented without tongue, bristles, hooves, genital organs, flare fat, kidneys and diaphragm”. The same regulation recommends a standard presentation for sheep carcases as follows: “without the head (severed at the atlantooccipital joint), the feet (severed at the carpometacarpal or tarso-metatarsal joints), the tail (severed between the sixth and seventh caudal vertebrae), the udder, the genitalia, the liver and the pluck. Kidneys and kidney fat are included in the carcass”.

In order to ensure suitability for human consumption, samples are taken from each carcass for additional testing at the National Veterinary Laboratory whilst a veterinarian carries out a post-mortem inspection, on each head. Carcasses are also classified in line with EU regulations. Carcasses are then stored in temperature controlled rooms in preparation for dispatch and/or cutting and de-boning.

Halal Slaughter

The Public Abattoir also provides the services of halal slaughter for animals slaughtered for consumption by the local Muslim community. Such slaughter is carried out by a trained Muslim butcher in line with European and national hygiene and animal welfare regulations. A note confirming that a particular animal was slaughtered in line with halal practices may be issued upon request.

[1] The Gozo abattoir is the only other, though much smaller, such establishment on the Maltese islands.