The government is facing renewed calls to curb the slaughtering of animals that have not first been rendered unconscious - a debate that pits religious sensitivities against the convictions of animal welfare campaigners.

Senior Conservative backbencher Greg Knight has told MPs that the practice of slaughtering cattle, lambs and chickens in this way is "rife".

The law demands that animals be stunned before they are killed - by electrocution, gassing, or shooting retractable rods into their brains - but there are exemptions for animals to be killed according to Jewish and Muslim traditions, without stunning them first.

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