The RSPCA was convicted of calling for pigs to be killed in slaughterhouses for “welfare” purposes after farmers began killing their animals in slaughterhouses because of labor shortages.
The shortage of labor in slaughterhouses and the disruption of the supply chain have resulted in a growing backlog of pigs on the farms.
About 120,000 are expected to be bolted to death and the carcasses disposed of instead of entering the food chain. The National Pig Association says culling has started on a handful of farms.
Boris Johnson denied animal welfare concerns, saying the pigs would die anyway.
However, the RSPCA urged the government to take immediate action “to protect animal welfare and support British farmers”.
Slaughterhouses are specifically designed to kill animals, the charity said, and shooting thousands of healthy pigs on a farm “will be extremely difficult, even for a seasoned expert.”
However, animal welfare experts from Compassion in World Farming said shooting was preferable to death in a slaughterhouse, where most are poisoned with high levels of carbon dioxide gas, causing immense suffering and “inhuman” death.
“CO2 causes ‘severe breathlessness’ – in the words of a scientific paper,” said chief politician Peter Stevenson.
“You can see the pigs hyperventilating, gasping for breath and trying to escape the gas chamber.”
Mr. Stevenson related The independent one: “I definitely disagree with the RSPCA. I’m not saying that farm slaughter is good, but the use of high levels of CO2 causes immense suffering. It makes the term ‘humane slaughter’ a mockery. “
Emma Slawinski of the RSPCA, who previously opposed the use of carbon dioxide, said, “Slaughterhouses are specially designed to kill animals. Shooting thousands of healthy pigs on a farm will be extremely difficult, even for a seasoned expert.
“Pigs are intelligent, big, and strong animals that weigh as much as a grown man, and even a seasoned expert will find it difficult to get a clean shot.
“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 bolt in captivity was not easy, but said that if done correctly, it would result in instant unconsciousness, which was “largely preferable” to carbon dioxide.
Alternative methods are lethal injection and electrical anesthesia. He said, “If done correctly, it would result in an instant loss of consciousness.
“For me, the debate is not about slaughtering on the farm or in a slaughterhouse, but about the fact that the normal slaughter of pigs is, in the vast majority of cases, terrible. This element is missing from the current debate on the plight of the pig sector. “
In 2003, the Farm Animal Welfare Council recommended phasing out carbon dioxide use within five years. But instead, said Stevenson, the use of the “inhuman” practice is increasing.
An RSPCA spokeswoman said the charity wants CO2 to be banned and that humane alternatives are urgently developed.
In 2018, she and CiWF wrote a joint letter to the government calling for a ban until 2024.
A leader in pork says labor shortages are causing cheap EU pork imports to flood the UK market and undercut UK farmers.
The industry is short of 15,000 workers, according to the British Meat Processors Association.