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HSA Commits to New Research, Development to Improve Welfare of Pigs at Slaughter

UK - The Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) and the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) are jointly offering up to 3400,000 of research funding for a project to develop a more humane way to stun pigs during commercial slaughter.
calendar icon 11 July 2017
clock icon 1 minute read

The stunning of pigs by direct exposure to high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) is currently common practice for the commercial slaughter of pigs.

"The HSA hopes that this collaborative funding opportunity with Defra will lead to improvements in the welfare of pigs at the time of slaughter."
Dr Robert Hubrecht, Chief Executive & Scientific Director at HSA

The use of CO2 in high concentration is permitted under EU and national regulations and this method is used in the UK as well as other EU member states.

However, research has shown that pigs find direct exposure to high concentrations of CO2 aversive. In 2003, the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s (FAWC) report on animal welfare recommended that this method should be phased out.

The following year, a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed the effectiveness of the method, but noted that it resulted in respiratory distress in pigs.

Similar concerns were expressed for poultry and alternative controlled atmosphere systems are now in use within the poultry industry.

The HSA and Defra are both committed to improving the welfare of animals at slaughter and the funding aims 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’s Chief Executive & Scientific Director Dr Robert Hubrecht said: "The HSA hopes that this collaborative funding opportunity with Defra will lead to improvements in the welfare of pigs at the time of slaughter."

For further information on the funding and how to apply, see

Applications will need to be made through Defra’s electronic tendering portal Bravo –

Any enquiries regarding this opportunity such as eligibility criteria etc should also be made through the Bravo system. Deadline for submissions is 12.00 GMT on Monday, 28 August 2017.

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