After Eyes on Animals visited Tomassen duck slaughterhouse, they have made some in-house changes to reduce suffering.
Tomassen uses an electric waterbath to stun the ducks before slaughter. Before stunning ducks are shackled alive manually. On our recommendation Tomassen closed a gap underneath the shackle-line where the ducks sometimes got stuck with their beaks. The button that manually stops the conveyer-belt has been moved to a new location making it easier to reach. If a crate is not yet empty during the shackling of the birds, the conveyer belt can now be stopped easily, so crates do not fall off the conveyer belt or need to be pulled backwards.
To reduce stress and pain during shackling Tomassen will experiment with compliant shackles so there is less pressure on the ducks feet. Further Tomassen has purchased an electric stunning device so ducks that arrive injured or sick can be individually killed in a more humane way.
A problem we observed during our visit was ducks lifting their heads when shackled. This resulted in the ducks breasts touching the water before their heads – causing a painful shock before they are deemed unconscious. It can also affect meat quality and stunning efficiency. We are in discussions with Tomassen about possible solutions they can implement to prevent this from happening, like a shackle line with a dip or a head-guide-bar.
We want to thank Tomassen for their animal welfare improvements so far.