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You are here: HomeNews & EventsSuccess for HSA One-Day Seminar

Success for HSA One-Day Seminar

09 November 2023

The HSA One-Day Seminar: Animal Welfare at Slaughter and Killing – Hot Topics 2023 took place on Wednesday 18 October 2023 in Solihull, UK, bringing together international colleagues associated with animal welfare at slaughter.

We were delighted to welcome 120 delegates to the event discussing topics such as CCTV to improve animal welfare at slaughter and improving pig handling for high-voltage electrical stunning systems. Some specific highlights are discussed below:

Allocation of funding to maximise animal welfare in small abattoirs
Following the announcement by Defra of a £4 million fund to help the small abattoir sector invest for the future, John Mettrick (National Crafter Butchers Legislation Director & Chair of the Abattoir Sector Group, UK) provided updates on how the funding could be used in practice.

The aim of the fund is three-fold: to improve productivity, enhance animal health and welfare, and encourage investment in new technologies. The funding must be used to make improvements above and beyond the existing legal requirements. In the context of animal welfare, an example of how the funding could be used includes the development of shooting boxes for long-horned animals. Feedback from members of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust suggests that some abattoirs are currently unable or unwilling to process long horned cattle due to concerns about meeting the ‘stun to stick’ times. The width races in addition to the design of the shooting box can be problematic for processing these animals, which could result in processors being in breach of current regulations. As a result, some long horned cattle have longer journey times to slaughter. By developing shooting boxes for long horned cattle, more operators may be able to process these animals resulting in shorter journey times.  

‘Demonstration of Life’ protocol
Dr Claire White (National Farmers Union (NFU), UK) updated delegates on the Demonstration of Life protocol for sheep – a protocol used to demonstrate recoverability of head-only electrical stunning systems. The protocol is the first of its kind available in the UK and gives assurance to Muslim consumers and markets that products from animals stunned in this way comply with Halal assurance standards.

Claire advised that, since its launch, the protocol has been widely promoted by both the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Food Standards Agency (FSA) who are responsible for its delivery, but uptake by eligible abattoirs has been modest. In order to increase interest and uptake, it is essential to understand more about the wider landscape of acceptance of stunning.

Poultry welfare during mass depopulation operations
In autumn 2022, the UK saw a big increase in cases of avian influenza (AI). Outbreaks of notifiable diseases such as AI require prompt depopulation, but current methods for this are either not effective or not humane.

Julian Sparrey (Livetec Systems Ltd, UK) described the development of a novel method of depopulation – Nitrogen Filled Foam – for mass depopulation of chicken sheds. Laboratory results assessing the use of Nitrogen Filled Foam are promising, suggesting that birds start flapping at about 15 seconds after submersion, a characteristic of anoxic death (depriving the brain of oxygen). For deployment in floor-reared poultry barns, four foam generators could be placed, one in each corner of the shed. Such generators are capable of producing 100m3 of foam per minute, which would result in a rapid loss of unconsciousness.

For more information about all the speakers at the seminar, please visit the dedicated webpage.  . The slides from most of the talks will be available via this webpage shortly. 

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