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EXIT- Exploratory project (2020-2022)

EXIT - The fate of working animals and their health: slaughter, culling, retirement

[Project] : The project proposes four case studies designed to explore and describe the ways in which animals leave work, leading to a more general understanding of the underlying socio-technical mechanisms.

Context and challenges


Our domestic animals, used for sport, leisure, in a laboratory or for production, work for and with us. When they can no longer meet our production requirements, their reconversion usually means they will be slaughtered (or euthanized). But increasing numbers of breeders are now questioning the welfare and fate of their animals, and more generally there appear to be strong demands from society to take better account of the living and end-of-life conditions of animals. One of these challenges therefore concerns alternatives to the slaughter of "reconverted" animals, whose life expectancy is limited and planned. At a time when slaughter - in terms of both its methods and purposes - is now seriously questioned by society from the moral and political points of view, initiatives are springing up to develop alternatives that are more in phase with demands from breeders and citizens; firstly, alternative methods (slaughter on the farm, for example) and secondly alternatives to such a fate relative to slaughter itself; for example the reconversion or retirement of animals. These new prospects for life, unexplored by industrial livestock production systems, raise numerous scientific questions: how should livestock farmers take such decisions? How should the feed resources and space allocated to these animals be managed? What are social perceptions regarding ageing animals, and how much care should they be given? How can these alternatives receive sufficient social and economic support? What role should be given to these animals in a new type of agriculture and society in order to preserve the environment and human health?



The EXIT project will address this complex series of questions using an interdisciplinary approach involving both biological and technical sciences (animal husbandry, ethology, veterinary sciences) and human and social sciences (sociology, management sciences, anthropology). The project is based on a collection of four case studies concerning different animal species and different issues. These four case studies are designed to explore and describe life after work for these animals in order to gain a clearer understanding of underlying social and technical mechanisms.

Species concerned



  • Animal Lab team in the Joint Research Unit for Innovation, Science for Action and Transition (ACT) Division, INRAE: working relationships between humans and animals; sociology of relations between humans and animals, sociology.
  • Territorial Management of Animal Health Team in the Research Unit for Animal Husbandry Development (UR LRDE), Science for Action and Transition (ACT) Division, INRAE: management and technical sciences for livestock systems.
  • GeSPR team in the Joint Research Unit for Genetics, Physiology and Livestock Systems (UMR GenPhyse), Animal Genetics (GA) Division: ethology.
  • CEB team in the Joint Research Unit for Reproductive and Behavioural Physiology (UMR PRC), Animal Physiology and Livestock Systems Division (PHASE) Division, INRAE: ethology
  • INRAE Animal Physiology and Livestock Systems (PHASE) and Animal Genetics (GA) Divisions FPN Training Management Group for "Thinking around euthanasia": ethics in animal experimentation, veterinary sciences.   
  • External partners: DIR Cluster of the French Institute of the Horse and Riding (IFCE); ILLOC Interpro Dairy Corsica and OS-Corsica Ewes, Corsica.


Contacts - coordinators:

Jocelyne Porcher and François Charrier

See also

  • Download the project information sheet (forthcoming)

Modification date : 28 July 2023 | Publication date : 30 July 2021 | Redactor : Com