A few years ago Eyes on Animals met with MCS to discuss their plans to close down their current slaughterhouse and build a brand new slaughterhouse in Mohacs. We discussed some “best-practices” we had seen in pig slaughterhouses in other countries and encouraged them to incorporate these ideas so that stress and suffering could also be reduced in their new plant. We also encouraged them to visit several specific slaughterhouses that we felt had at least made a real effort to improve conditions during pig slaughter, which they did do.
Some best-practice examples that they copied were the green lighting used at Toennies, to reduce the formation of shadows and to calm pigs down, as well as having mobile electric stunners at every unloading ramp, so if a pig arrives injured, he or she can be put out of their misery right away. They also built a large lairage with each pen having numerous dividers, so that pigs could be kept in appropriate group sizes. The sides of the pens were also solid, to stop drafts from coming through the sides. They forbid electric prods, employees are only allowed to use plastic shakers. We suggested them not chosing for CO2 as a stunning option, but to wait until a more humane gas system come onto the market. Unfortunately research has been slow, and there is not yet an alternative to CO2 for gas stunning systems. As well, due to their major customer, TESCO, they ended up buying a Butina CO2 stunning system as TESCO requires it.
Today we were invited to take a look inside their plant, now that it is open and operating. Indeed a lot of thought was put into the design, in order to keep stress levels low for the pigs during unloading, waiting in the lairage and being moved into the raceway. The inhalation of CO2 remains a major welfare concern. We suggested a few other improvements they could make (rubber carpet in the suspect pen for these pigs to be able to lie on a well-insulated and soft material, and sealing the gap on the front gates of the lairage pens, to prevent drafts from coming in this way). We will remain in touch with them.