Can a goose kill a person?

The final act or how to slaughter the Christmas goose

Quiet but tense, she hangs upside down, firmly fixed by two pairs of hands. One is around the neck - not too tight so that it does not suffocate - the other spans the base of the wings. Place the knife point on the throat, pierce it, just below the spine, which you can feel through the soft plumage. Cutting through the throat and throat is easy, but the point of the freshly sharpened knife must be right. Quickly turn your hand, press your thumb firmly on the neck and turn around. It makes cracks quietly. The goose is not dead now. Just stunned. She no longer notices anything about dying.

In order for the blood to run out of the body, the heart has to beat. An animal dies from blood loss. It is dead when it is bled out. This is how Christoph Wiesner explained it and showed how to go about slaughtering. Ideally in a team - one person holds, one stabs. The 47-year-old runs the Arche de Wiskendale, an organic farm in the Weinviertel, with his wife Isabell. You can slaughter yourself at the Wiesners. Vincent got the course as a present from his girlfriend Silke, Werner likes to eat poultry and wants to know exactly what happens before it ends up in his kitchen. Thomas has been here before to slaughter pigs.

He already knows that the goose only begins to flap its wings after a knife and a broken neck. It's the nerves that are still twitching. At Christmas it will probably taste particularly good to the guests. Connoisseurs swear by the meat of stress-free slaughtered animals, not just Christoph Wiesner. The former building contractor and his wife are particularly careful.

Wiesners breed old breeds here in Wischathal, those that are not lucrative for the meat industry: Old Styrians, Sulmtalers, domestic geese, Aylesbury ducks, Mangalitza pigs. There are currently 120 pigs. Apart from the six family members, the composition at the court is not always the same.

Isabell Wiesner is currently raising a Mangalite pig with a bottle. The sow has rejected it. It is quite possible that it will live longer: "The piglet is now in the Leo," says Isabell.

Unlike the conspecifics and the poultry, which is only slaughtered on the farm. Because of the quality of the meat. The Wiesners are uncompromising here. Every stress-producing moment can be read from the meat, says Christoph Wiesner. That is why a slaughter is well planned. While the goose's collar is turned, Werner covers his duck's eyes.

The jet that squirts from the goose's throat into a bucket of cereal grains slowly turns into a slow drop. There is a slight smell of blood and flesh in the air. The grains turn red. They are fed later. On this Sunday, next to the goose, a duck and three chickens will die, they were all born this spring. They are already in the possession of the course participants who buy the poultry live on the farm. According to the law, you can only kill animals that belong to you when you are slaughtered at home.

Werner cuts his duck's throat in a concentrated manner - as if he had never done anything else. The mood is cheerful. You can recognize battle novices immediately. Vincent, "a real Viennese and meat lover", has no experience of killing animals and apologizes to his chicken because he does not set the knife correctly right away. The animal makes a little sound. Crows would be said too much, sighs too little.

Isabell Wiesner comforts him: "These animals had a nice life compared to many of their conspecifics." Your husband finds the apology remarkable. "There is a first time for everything," he says, a little puzzled.

In the stable you can hear a cow snorting, a calf is lying next to its mother in the straw. The horse in the barn doesn't make a sound. "Horses die the quietest," says Isabell Wiesner. A chicken cackles in the fenced-in meadow around the corner, and a cat attentively observes the goings-on from a distance. In the courtyard there are cleanly scrubbed wooden tables, on them knives with colored handles that are later used for gutting, next to them a huge tub of liquid wax.

The goose is also bathed here after plucking, the last remains of down can then be plucked out easily. Silke, the vegetarian, doesn’t flinch and helps out. After about an hour, the first act is done. All of the animals hang bleeding - one might almost say quite relaxed - on a gallows-like, rust-colored metal frame. White next to brown, an aesthetic sight. The way you want it as a consumer.

The separation of animal, death and meat works perfectly for the average consumer in the supermarket. The animals are killed in slaughterhouses. Under (usually) professional, hygienic conditions. Apart from a few scandals, it seems to work. You don't want to know too much about the weal and woe of the animals during transport and at the slaughterhouse. The animals suffered from enormous stress under these conditions, says Christoph Wiesner. To avoid this, you would actually have to take them to the slaughterhouse twenty times and then back home to the stable. Only the 21st time you can kill it largely stress-free.

Of course, this has little to do with the reality of industrial slaughter. The number of animals that are not slaughtered in slaughterhouses in Austria is in the per thousand range. A ready-to-roast chicken can be had at discounters for two euros, a Hungarian goose for just under ten.

Wiesner's bird costs four times as much. But even as an organic farmer you cannot afford romance. A species-appropriate goose is slaughtered between the ninth and 32nd week of life, only our Christmas roast was allowed to get a little older.

A domestic goose could live to be 15 years old, but that would be too expensive. Every week of life more hits the organic farmers market. Here everything is used up to the last gram of fat, in hours of work. For that reason alone, Werner, Vincent and everyone else like to pay the high price. But also a little because of the relatively peaceful death. (Regina Bruckner, December 22nd, 2018)