There are different reasons why animals may be killed. Many animals are killed as a food source for humans and this is the basis of many agricultural enterprises. In other instances animals used in agriculture may be killed because of culling, disease control measures, illness, injury, old age, or when they reach the end of their productive life.
It is essential that teachers discuss with students the ethics and responsibilities that humans have in both the life and death of animals.
Any animals that are slaughtered for food and then sold must be slaughtered and processed by an approved facility. Schools may not slaughter animals and then sell them as food. This includes poultry. The Meat Industry Act 1978 defines birds as abattoir animals.
The meat from animals that have been slaughtered in a registered processing facility may be returned to school packaged and ready for sale.
If justified by the school’s curriculum, a few chickens may be slaughtered by the teacher (or other suitably trained person) and dressed to demonstrate livestock processing for food. The teacher, or other suitably trained person, may kill the chickens without the presence of students, prior to the commencement of the dressing activity.
Another example where it may be justified to kill an animal at school may arise because it is cruel for it to be kept alive. If that situation arises, killing may be performed only by persons competent in a recognised and approved method. There are preferred ways of killing particular species, and the most acceptable means should be used. If there is not a person who has the appropriate skill, then a veterinarian should be called.
The killing of any animal, in a school, must only be demonstrated to students in the following situations:
- To achieve an educational outcome as specified in the relevant curriculum or competency requirement, provided the teacher has written approval from the SACEC, or
- As part of veterinary clinical management of an animal, under the direction of a veterinarian.
Whatever the circumstances, the procedure used for killing an animal must avoid distress, be reliable, and produce rapid loss of consciousness without pain until death occurs. The procedure should minimise any impact on non-target animals. If possible, the animal must be unaware of danger before being killed.
There must be no disposal of the carcasses until death is established. The means of disposal of the carcass will depend on the species of animal and local government regulations.
When fertilised eggs are used, the method of disposal must ensure the death of the embryo. The holding of fertilised eggs over 10 days old with the intention of disposing of them prior to hatching is not permitted.
Except for the above, animals should not be killed in schools.