The RSPCA has been condemned for calling for the slaughter of pigs in slaughterhouses for ‘welfare’ reasons, after farmers started killing their animals due to a shortage of labor in slaughterhouses.
The lack of workers in slaughterhouses and the disruption of the supply chain have resulted in a growing backlog of pigs on farms.
About 120,000 people are expected to be slaughtered with a captive bolt and the carcasses disposed of rather than entering the food chain. The National Pig Association says culling has started at a handful of farms.
Boris Johnson dismissed animal welfare concerns, saying the pigs were going to die anyway.
But the RSPCA urged the government to take immediate action “to protect animal welfare and support UK farmers”.
Slaughterhouses are specially designed to kill animals, the association said, and slaughtering thousands of healthy pigs on a farm “will be extremely difficult, even for a trained expert.”
However, animal welfare experts at Compassion in World Farming said the shooting was far better than a death in a slaughterhouse, where most are poisoned by high concentrations of carbon dioxide, causing immense suffering and an “inhuman” death.
“CO2 causes ‘severe respiratory distress’ – in the words of a scientific article,” Chief Policy Advisor Peter Stevenson said.
“The pigs can be seen hyperventilating, struggling to breathe and trying to escape the gas chamber.”
Mr. Stevenson said The independent: “I absolutely disagree with the RSPCA. I’m not saying on-farm slaughter is a good thing, but using high levels of CO2 causes immense suffering. This makes fun of the term “humane slaughter”.
Emma Slawinski, of the RSPCA, who has previously lobbied against the use of carbon dioxide, said: “Slaughterhouses are specially designed to kill animals. Slaughtering thousands of healthy pigs on a farm will be extremely difficult, even for a trained expert.
“Pigs are intelligent, large and strong animals, weighing as much as an adult man, and it will be difficult to get a sharp picture, even for a trained expert.
“Farmers want to do the right thing and bring their animals to slaughterhouses where they can be slaughtered in a more humane way. “
Mr Stevenson agreed that stunning pigs with a captive bolt was not easy, but said if done correctly it would produce instant unconsciousness, which was “far better” than carbon dioxide. carbon.
Alternative methods include lethal injection and electrical stunning. He said, “If done right, it would produce instant unconsciousness.
“For me, the debate is not about on-farm or slaughterhouse slaughter, but about the fact that normal slaughter of pigs is horrible in the vast majority of cases. This element is missing from the current debate on the fate of the pig industry.
In 2003, the Farm Animal Welfare Council advised to phase out the use of carbon dioxide within five years. But instead, Stevenson said, the use of the “inhumane” practice was on the rise.
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said the charity wanted CO2 banned and humane alternatives developed urgently.
In 2018, he wrote a joint letter with CiWF to the government, calling for a ban by 2024.
A major pork supplier says the labor shortage means cheap pork imports from the EU are flooding the UK market, undermining UK farmers.
The industry is short of 15,000 workers, according to the British Meat Processors Association.