It has been an on-going discussion: meat quality is in direct conflict with animal welfare when poultry are stunned with electricity. When the amper and voltage are set high enough to guarantee that the birds lose consciousness before being slaughtered, their “carcasses” lose value due to the many blood spots caused by the shock. Therefore, most birds are purposely not stunned fully to assure that their carcass does not lose value!
Fortunately, some of the more ethically responsible plants have decided to make the switch over to using different gas mixutres. PINGO poultry use CO2 and O2 concentrations. The birds do not need to be hung up alive, thus greatly reducing panic and bone fractures, and all birds come out properly stunned with no chance of regaining consiousness. The stunning process is not entirely without its stress, the transport cages are tipped automatically so that the birds fall out onto a conveyor belt, which is a frightful moment for them. And the first few seconds of the 30%CO2 gas mixture is likely aversive but brings them quickly into unconsciousness, as we only saw some of the birds shaking their heads. The advantages largely outweigh the electric stunning system.
The PINGO poultry plant also has an Animal Welfare Officer that observes the BEHAVIOUR of the birds in the gas chambers (which has several observation windows) to check that the system is working properly and adjusted as needed according to the age or breed of birds. Eyes on Animals will distribute the information learned today to our taskforce members in other countries, with the aim of phasing out electric stunning also in Canada, American, and other parts of Europe.