Today the Eyes on Animals and CCFA (Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals) team dropped by, unannounced, at the DuCharme poultry slaughterhouse to see how involved this company is with animal-welfare. We were not allowed to view the slaughter process today but after introducing our organizations and our aims, we were well received by the man in charge of Quality and Welfare and held a long and stimulating talk. DuChamp still uses the water bath electrical stunning system, which in the Netherlands is being phased out because of the concern for the birds’ welfare during stunning – a considerably high percentage of birds is not stunned properly.
In The Netherlands, stunning using CO2 system where the birds often remain in their transport crates is replacing the electric bath system. For DuChamp, switching over to a brand new CO2 stunning system is too big an investment right now. We suggest that in the meantime they could do everything possible to reduce some of the suffering caused by the electric bath/live shackling system. We looked at the Eyes on Animals Poultry-Slaughter Industry Tips brochure together for examples of best practices that they could copy, such as installing a “ breast supporter” (a sort of conveyor belt that the shackled birds lean on) to avoid that their shackled legs carry the burden of all their weight. This idea, and others, were of interest to DuCharme and we will stay in touch with them to further encourage putting them into practice.
We were pleased to hear that their employees will be trained by an animal-welfare consultancy company in Drummondville, just like the employees of Ste. Hyacinthe market were. We will send an invitation to this man and his DuCharme colleagues to participate in our Best-Practices conference in the Netherlands next fall, so that practical ideas to decrease suffering can be discussed and copied on both sides of the ocean. We would like to thank this man for his openness and interest. Upon leaving, we observed a full truck arriving. The side tarps were thick and in place because the outdoor temperature was very cold (approx. minus 15). To let out the trapped heat the driver opened one side of the tarp before entering the building. We had a quick glimpse and noticed at least one bird was dead. This is the sad reality of poultry transport- during catching and loading much stress is created and up to 2% Dead on Arrival is common and accepted.