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Home > News > Defra and HSA to fund research into pig stunning methods

Defra and HSA to fund research into pig stunning methods

11th Jul 2017 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA has responsed to news that funding is being made available for research into alternatives to carbon dioxide (CO2) to stun pigs. 

Defra and the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) are jointly offering up to £400,000 of research funding for a project to develop a more humane way to stun pigs during commercial slaughter.

The stunning of pigs by direct exposure to high concentrations of CO2 is currently common practice for the commercial slaughter of pigs, including in the UK and other EU member states.

However, HSA said research has shown that pigs find direct exposure to high concentrations of CO2 ‘aversive’

It cited a 2003 Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) report on animal welfare which recommended that this method should be phased out and a subsequent report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which confirmed the effectiveness of the method, but noted that it resulted in respiratory distress in pigs. 

The association said it the funding aimed to develop and or validate a ‘more humane method which could replace high-concentration CO2 stunning of pigs’. The project aims to ensure that any proposed method is not only more humane but also practically and economically viable so that it is likely to be widely adopted by the pig industry, HSA said.

NPA response 

NPA senior policy advisor Georgina Crayford said: “We are pleased funding has been made available for research into new methods.

“We also welcome HSA’s acknowledgement that new methods need to be commercially viable to ensure roll out but, until an alternative is found, CO2 stunning remains best practice.”