Home slaughter of farm animals is not illegal in Australia – but lack of oversight and regulation of practice, according to some, opens the door for inhumane slaughter.

Warning: This story contains distressing content.



Jenny says this is a common traditional practice and those birds are only for personal consumption, not for sale.

“We’ve been doing it for generations.”

In Australia, home slaughter is legal if it is exclusively meant for personal consumption within a domestic environment. Depending on the jurisdiction, it is legal to treat farm animals in ways that would be considered inhumane if it was done to a companion animal.

Read moreIs home slaughter of farm animals humane?

The RSPCA “is opposed to home slaughter because of the lack of oversight and regulation of the practice so it cannot be guaranteed that animals will be humanely slaughtered,” a spokesman for RSPCA says.

Jenny* is not alone. In fact, the practice is more common than most people think.

The RSPCA says this is concerning due to “the differences in the regulation across jurisdictions in Australia for slaughter in the context of both commercial and home slaughter.”

But in Australia, home slaughter of farm animals without prior stunning is legally permitted for cultural, religious and traditional reasons in all states and territories. For example, the production of kosher and halal meat, adhering to Jewish and Islamic religious customs respectively, involves the practice of cutting an animal’s throat while it is fully conscious, followed by allowing the animal to bleed to death.

Read moreIs religious slaughter legal in Australia?

Jenny* says getting those animals is easy. “You can pretty much get them from any market in Sydney,” she adds.

Every Saturday, this carpark located inside Paddy’s Market Flemington turns into a flea market. If you love a bargain, this is your bright destination.


It might be a part of Australia’s largest market, but within this carpark-turned-garage sale, a rather different trade lurks in the shadows.

What you might not expect to find is a truck full of farm birds, all locked up in cages, on display, ready for sale.

And if you think these birds are being sold just for pets, you better think again.


Central News does not suggest Paddy’s Markets Flemington or anyone mentioned in this story is engaged in illegal activity.

James Cassar, one farm animal dealer who sells chickens and ducks at the market, tells us: “People are eating them, they’re not taking them as pets.”

“People mightn’t like it.”

Cassar says he looks after his birds well.

He is aware that they will end up being slaughtered in people’s backyard for food.

“What they do with [them] is out of my control,” he says.

They don’t come cheap.

“Drake, you’re looking at $120……Ducks – $50 (each),” says Cassar.


Farm birds are sold alongside clothes and other items at the market. Photo: Jonathan Weitz-Freeman.

They sell quick as well.

“Got none left, they’re all gone,” he says.

On any given Saturday, he sells around 15 to 20 ducks alone.

Today, he “sold about maybe 15 [ducks].”

Birds are usually packaged, contained, and transported in fresh produce boxes after being sold.

“You have to get there early in the morning, 7 or 8 o’clock, sometimes 6 if you want to pick the good ones. If you are late, they sold out or you [are] left with not-so-good ones”, says Jenny*, “it’s good money, it used to be half the price, then 100 [dollars], now 120 [dollars].”


Market trader Zoran sells clothes. Photo: Jonathan Weitz-Freeman.


Zoran (last name not provided) who sells clothing in the flea market, says there are numerous farmers doing the same trade.

Inside the market on Sunday, another pet shop owner also sells chickens and ducks, and Zoran believes they are also destined for backyard slaughter. The practice’s been going on for quite some time, he says.

“[It’s] the same thing, like what he does is pretty much what these guys [do].”

The RSPCA spokesman says the organisation opposes “the sale of individual farm animals destined for home slaughter because it cannot be guaranteed that such animals will be humanely and completely handled, transported, and then slaughtered.”

The so-called humane rules and methods are too ambiguous and hard to follow, they don’t make sense.

He adds that humane killing is “when an animal is either killed instantly or rendered insensible until death ensues, without pain, suffering or distress.”

“This means they must be stunned so they are insensible during bleeding out.”

“Some stunning methods used in the context of slaughter include penetrating or non-penetrating captive-bolt devices; instruments for stunning by electric current; or the use of gas. Stunning and killing methods should only be used if they have been declared humane by recognised authorities and they meet these basic criteria.”

“In most cases, the use of a firearm by a competent person is the most reliable and humane method. In addition, the method of killing and the skill of the operator are essential aspects of the slaughtering process.”

Jenny* says: “The RSPCA’s so-called humane rules and methods are too ambiguous and hard to follow, they don’t make sense.”


Jenny slaughtering a rooster in her backyard. Photo: Jonathan Weitz-Freeman.


Plus, ordinary Australians don’t just own guns, thanks to Australia’s strict gun control laws.

Australia relies on animal rights advocacy groups to push the government and regulatory authority for better animal welfare.

Improvements in animal welfare have been slow in Australia and recognition of animal sentience remains incomplete or lacking.

For companion dogs and cats, Australian law requires them to be microchipped and registered by the time they are six months old.

But for farm animals, the RSPCA says registration and microchipping are not required and it is uncommon, and “the reason for purchasing an [farm] animal at a sale yard is not usually required to be disclosed.”

* Not her real name.

Photos by Jonathan Weitz-Freeman.