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Article

Responses of Pigs to Stunning with Nitrogen Filled High-Expansion Foam

1
Department of Agriculture and Food, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden AB, 750-07 Uppsala, Sweden
2
Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 532-23 Skara, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(12), 2210; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122210
Received: 19 October 2020 / Revised: 13 November 2020 / Accepted: 23 November 2020 / Published: 25 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
Stunning pigs with carbon dioxide gas is one of the most common methods for commercial slaughter. Carbon dioxide, however, has been shown to be aversive for pigs and causes a high degree of distress before they lose consciousness. Stunning with nitrogen gas is less aversive than with carbon dioxide, and an innovative method that delivers the nitrogen gas in high-expansion foam in a closed container could potentially improve pig welfare at stunning. Pigs were exposed to either air-filled foam, nitrogen-filled foam, or no foam in air, and the behavioural and physiological responses were assessed. The pigs did not show any strong aversive behaviours when exposed to foam, regardless of whether it was air-filled or nitrogen-filled foam. However, they seemed to avoid putting their heads and snouts into the foam, and the rate of escape attempts through the lid increased when foam levels became high. Five minutes after the nitrogen foam production started, the pigs were assessed to be in deep unconsciousness or dead. Based on the results found, stunning with the nitrogen foam technique may be a viable alternative to carbon dioxide stunning and offer improved animal welfare. Further studies are needed to assess the new method for stunning of slaughter-weight pigs.
Nitrogen gas (N2) delivered in high expansion foam in a closed container could be a feasible method for humanely stunning pigs. This study aimed to evaluate potential aversion in pigs to the N2 foam method and its effect on stun quality. Furthermore, the study aimed to assess potential aversion to the foam itself. Sixty pigs (27.8 ± 4.4 kg) were divided into three treatments and were exposed to either N2-filled foam, air-filled foam, or no foam air. The N2 foam was effective at purging the air from the container and quickly created stable anoxic conditions. The pigs did not show any strong aversive behaviours when exposed to foam. However, they seemed to avoid putting their heads and snouts into the foam when foam levels became high. Escape attempts through the lid also increased when the foam started covering their heads. The mean time to loss of posture was 57.9 s. Based on the results, stunning with the N2 foam technique could be a viable alternative to high concentration CO2 stunning and potentially lead to improved animal welfare at slaughter. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; hypoxia; anoxia; aversion; controlled atmosphere; killing; euthanasia; gas animal welfare; hypoxia; anoxia; aversion; controlled atmosphere; killing; euthanasia; gas
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lindahl, C.; Sindhøj, E.; Brattlund Hellgren, R.; Berg, C.; Wallenbeck, A. Responses of Pigs to Stunning with Nitrogen Filled High-Expansion Foam. Animals 2020, 10, 2210. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122210

AMA Style

Lindahl C, Sindhøj E, Brattlund Hellgren R, Berg C, Wallenbeck A. Responses of Pigs to Stunning with Nitrogen Filled High-Expansion Foam. Animals. 2020; 10(12):2210. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122210

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lindahl, Cecilia, Erik Sindhøj, Rebecka Brattlund Hellgren, Charlotte Berg, and Anna Wallenbeck. 2020. "Responses of Pigs to Stunning with Nitrogen Filled High-Expansion Foam" Animals 10, no. 12: 2210. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122210

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