In May 2023, footage of the use of CO2 to gas British pigs to death at Pilgrim’s Pride abattoir in Ashton-under-Lyne, in Greater Manchester, England, has been made public amid calls to ban this method of slaughter for being inhumane. The footage, obtained by vegan activist Joey Carbstrong by planting an undercover camera at the abattoir in February 2021, shows pigs in distress and pain as they are herded into a cage and then lowered into a gas chamber. This method of slaughter is common in the UK and other countries.
Joey Carbstrong said, “We urgently need to stop using animals as resources because this kind of horror show is the result.” Donald Broom, an animal welfare professor at the University of Cambridge, said to the Guardian about the footage, “The pigs in the video react to the first inhalation of carbon dioxide with fear and obvious discomfort. They try to escape but cannot. The gasping can be seen in all pigs where the mouth is visible. Gasping indicates poor welfare. The period of poor welfare continues until the pig loses consciousness.” Paul Roger, a vet and founder member of the Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law Veterinary Association, said, “If this is the way animals are treated in this plant, they’re not being handled humanely. It’s an unacceptable way to treat any animal, and that really concerns me.”
In 2003, a government advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, said that CO2 stunning/killing “is not acceptable and we wish to see it phased out in five years”. Despite this, the use of this gas to kill pigs has instead increased to 88% in 2022. Peter Stevenson, head of policy at Compassion in World Farming, said “I call on the government to ban the use of high levels of CO2 from 2026, thereby forcing the industry to belatedly invest in developing a slaughter method that is genuinely humane.” However, there is no such thing as a human way of killing pigs, as they all want to live and it’s inhumane to deprive them of their lives.