The RSPCA has once again called on the Australian pig industry to find an alternative method to carbon dioxide (CO2) stunning.

Currently around 85 per cent of pigs are stunned using CO2 before they are slaughtered, which Suzie Fowler, Chief Science Officer at RSPCA Australia, says needs to be phased out and replaced with a humane alternative.

“In contrast to electrical stunning, CO2 stunning allows pigs to be stunned in groups, with minimal restraint and less handling, and therefore less stress before stunning. But we also know there are serious welfare issues at the point of stun, including the fact that inhaling CO2 is aversive and painful.

“There is a critical need for alternatives to CO2 to be investigated and commercialised, including non-aversive gas mixtures (such as argon, nitrogen or nitrous oxide), a combination of different gases, or genetic selection for pigs who do not find CO2 to be aversive.”

Fowler said that in the meantime implementing important measures such as CCTV monitoring in abattoirs, better training in animal handling, and reducing pig stress immediately prior to stunning can help mitigate the risks.

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