Yesterday, for the very first time, I witnessed a cow being slaughtered and gutted.

I actually helped lead the cow out of the shed to the truck. The whole process was surprisingly quick.

A round device I could describe as a retracting bolt pistol (/msg me if you know the proper english name) was placed on the cow's forehead and fired.

After a short crack sound (the pistol is powered by cartridges similar to what is used in a nail gun), the cow fell to the ground with a thud and its body spasmed for about 30 seconds. I actually didn't expect this to happen so soon. I didn't realize it had begun until I could smell the smokeless gunpowder.

A steel wire rope from the slaughterhouse truck's crane was attached to the cow's leg and the cow's carcass was raised so that the neck could be slit. At first a small jet of blood flowed, another cut was made and the blood whooshed for a few seconds and then slowed to a trickle. The cow's other leg spasmed a bit more. The cow's eyes were open and the tongue was hanging out of its mouth.

The cow was lowered for gutting. First the tail was cut off and left on the ground. Cuts were made around the anus and vagina. The udder was cut off and left on the ground. The cow's abdomen was now sliced from sternum to pelvis. The stomachs, intestines, bowels and uterus fell to the ground and were severed from the cow's body.

About ten minutes after this began, the rest of the body was raised into the truck by crane and ready to be transported away.

After this experience, I'm still quite comfortable with the idea of eating beef. The cow was killed quickly, painlessly, efficiently and professionally.