Today we visited a large poultry slaughterhouse in Putten. In this slaughterhouse birds are stunned using a multi-stage CO2 gas stunning system from the company Meyn. In this system birds are stunned while they are still inside their transport containers. Therefore many stressful procedures, like manual or automatic unloading of the birds from their transport modules as well as shackling, are prevented. Additionally, this multi-stage CO2 stunning system also guarantees higher rates of effective stunning (99,97%), while electrical waterbath stunning is known to be highly unreliable.
Via windows we observed the behavior of birds during stunning. Even though the Meyn system uses low CO2 concentrations birds still show stress signals during stunning, like head shaking and deep breathing for approximately 50 seconds. This suffering, though, cannot be compared to the extreme fear and pain birds experience during the manual unloading and shackling when using the waterbath stunners.
The poultry slaughterhouse had its own poultry trucks. At arrival the transport containers loaded with birds are placed fully automatically from the flat-bed trucks onto conveyer belts. On top of the truck there are two air grills to improve ventilation and release heat produced by the birds. Nevertheless we did saw some birds with heat stress. We therefore advised the slaughterhouse to place double-tarps onto their trucks so – dependent on the weather conditions – chauffeurs can easily change tarps (from a netted tarp to a thick tarp or the other way around).
The multi-stage CO2 gas stunning system from Meyn is the best stunning system we have seen so far as it causes the least amount of suffering. The one drawback remains with the Meyn system- is that CO2 remains an aversive gas to breathe in. We would like to encourage industry to keep looking for systems that use anoxic gases instead of CO2, like argon or nitrogen so pre-slaughter stress is reduced further.