Slaughter of pregnant animals for meat is unethical, counterproductive and enhances zoonotic disease spread. This study determined the prevalence and reasons for slaughtering pregnant cows (SPCs) for meat. Pregnancy status of cows slaughtered was determined by evisceration and longitudinal incision of the uterus for presence of fetus. Closed-ended questionnaire was used to elicit information on causes of SPCs and disposal of eviscerated fetuses. Of the 851 cows slaughtered, 17.4% (148/851) were pregnant, 58.8% (87/148) of the pregnant animals were slaughtered during dry season while 43.2% (64/148) of the fetuses recovered were in their third trimester. Reasons adduced for SPCs and the proportion of respondents involved were: ignorance of the animals’ pregnancy status, 69.7% (83/119); high demand for beef, 61.3% (73/148); buyers preference for large-sized animals, 47.9 (57/148); economic hardship, 52.1% (62/148) and disease conditions, 42.9% (51/148). Fetuses or uterine contents were sold for human consumption, 17.6% (21/119); preparation of dog food, 27.7 (33/119) or disposed by open refuse dump method, 54.6% (65/119). The 17.4% prevalence is unacceptably high. This warrants ante-mortem pregnancy diagnosis in the slaughterhouses and strict implementation of the Animal Welfare Act (Meat Edict of 1968); to conserve livestock production, limit animal cruelty and spread of zoonoses.
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