Page 4 - Australian Pork Newspaper
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Stunning alternatives revealed
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WHILE electrical and carbon dioxide stunning of pigs will never please everyone, or the pigs for that matter, one apparent alternative is low atmos- pheric pressure stunning.
LAPS is where air is vacuumed out of a cham- ber containing pigs, ren- dering them unconscious due to lack of oxygen.
This hypoxia is a condi- tion in which the body or a region of the body is de- prived of adequate oxygen to the tissues.
It can be classified as generalised (affecting the whole body) or local (af- fecting a region of the body).
The RSPCA’s Animal Welfare Science Up- date, Issue 67 Jan 2020, cited a report published in ‘Animal Welfare’ last November, titled ‘Could low atmospheric pres- sure stunning (LAPS) be suitable for pig slaugh- ter? A review of the
UFAW promotes standards of welfare and practical, long-lasting solutions to welfare prob- lems for farm, companion, laboratory, captive wild animals and those we in- teract with in the wild.
The Bouwsema and Lines report abstract de- scribed LAPS as a slaugh- ter technique that may be less stressful for pigs (sus scrofa domestica) than current commercial stun- ning and slaughter meth- ods.
While the authors ac- knowledged there was no current published research on the use of LAPS for stunning adult pigs, there was a significant body of relevant experience from investigations into the ef- fects of low pressure and hypoxia on humans, hy- poxia for killing pigs and the use of LAPS for kill- ing piglets, poultry and rats.
In their paper, the ba- sic physics and biology of LAPS was briefly re- viewed and relevant expe- rience from research with humans, poultry, rats and piglets was presented.
On the basis of this in- formation, they proposed some initial parameters for LAPS trials with pigs and identified potential welfare issues and an ap- proach to achieve LAPS at a commercially viable speed.
While the effects of L A PS on pigs was pres- ently uncertain, evidence from research with hu- mans and other animals suggested that healthy, fasted pigs undergoing
LAPS were unlikely to suffer from air hunger or pain.
Any pigs suffering from upper respiratory tract disease, tooth decay or excess gas in the alimen- tary canal may, however, experience pain.
A killing cycle was like- ly to require nine to 14 minutes.
To implement LAPS in a commercial, high- throughput processing plant would require mul- tiple decompression cyl- inders.
The available evidence suggested L A PS could be commercially viable for pig slaughter and that for most pigs it would be less stressful than cur- rent commercial slaughter methods.
While the RSPCA ac- knowledges stunning with CO2 gas offers ben- efits over electric stun- ning, and that most pigs in Australia are stunned with CO2 gas, it believes potential alternatives such as those below should be investigated:
• Non-aversive (not un- pleasant and do not cause pain) gas mixtures such as argon, nitrogen, or nitrous oxide;
• A combination of ar- gon with CO2;
• Anaesthesia with non- aversive gases, followed by killing by CO2 or elec- trical methods; and
• Genetic selection for pigs that do not find CO2 painful.
According to RSPCA, recent studies revealed welfare issues with CO2 stunning, including:
• The gas is very un- pleasant for pigs (highly aversive);
• There is variability be- tween pigs’ responses to CO2;
• Pigs are not rendered unconscious immediately; and
• High concentrations of CO2 gas can cause sig- nificant pain and distress to pigs when inhaled (by causing acute respiratory distress).
available information’. The authors were Jenny Bouwsema and Jeffrey Lines, Universities Fed- eration for Animal Wel-
UK based and estab-
lished in 1926, UFAW is an internationally recog- nised, independent, sci- entific and educational animal welfare charity concerned with improv- ing knowledge and un- derstanding of animals’ needs.
After stunning, bleeding and dehairing, they simply move onto the stage.
Relaxing in the lairage before slaughter, unaware of how they’ll soon be stunned.
Page 4 – Australian Pork Newspaper, February 2020

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