Tucked away in the back room of a tatty red-brick building near Birmingham city centre, a beady-eyed chicken is turned upside down and placed in an open-ended metal cone.
A man approaches, carrying a sharp knife. Sizing up the bird, he mutters a short prayer. Then he gently takes hold of the chicken’s head, and expertly slits its throat.
Blood and the occasional feather fall to the floor. The animal appears to twitch. Roughly a minute later, it’s dead, and ready to be plucked, disembowelled, and placed inside a long refrigerated meat counter in the next-door room.
This process is repeated roughly a thousand times each day at the premises of Taj & Co, a “slaughter on site” wholesaler of halal meat and poultry, which has its headquarters in the largely Muslim neighbourhood of Handsworth.