At the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) conference in Zagreb 16-17th July 2015, the Danish Meat Research Institute (DMRI) received the Humane Slaughter Award for significant advances that have led to improvements in the humane slaughter of livestock.
‘We are very honoured to receive the HSA award. Our work is characterized by the strong combination of insight in animal behaviour, technical knowledge and close cooperation with the slaughterhouses. DMRI advises the meat industry on how to improve animal welfare by implementing new systems and procedures. Therefore, the success is not limited to the development of animal friendly systems but also includes the implementation of results and solutions in the meat industry. Good animal welfare is also good business. The equipment developed by DMRI combined with our insight into animal behaviour has not only improved animal welfare but has also significantly improved meat quality, productivity and working conditions’, says Director at DMRI, Susanne Støier.
Photo: People in the group are (left to right) Dr. Robert Hubrecht, HSA Chief Executive, Jade Spence, HSA Technical Officer, Susanne Støier DMRI and Charles Mason, HSA Technical Director.
Examples of systems and equipment developed by DMRI
Handling of pigs in groups
In the 1990’s, DMRI developed and implemented an animal handling principle based on small groups of approx. 15 pigs that were kept together all the way from loading on the transport vehicle to the stunner. Pigs are social animals and like to stay together in groups. By using this principle, the stress level of the pigs is significantly reduced compared with traditional systems with large groups.
Transport equipment and traceability
Optimized transport equipment including forced ventilation, anti-slipping flooring etc. as recommended by DMRI has made a more gentle animal transportation possible. To complete the group-based principle, we have developed and implemented a system by which the required traceability can be maintained even though the pigs are unmarked from the farm supplier, thereby making the present tattoo marking methods unnecessary, as they are associated with some level of stress for the pigs. Traceability is maintained by keeping the pigs in the same intact group from collection at the farm until they are identified using RFID tags on the slaughter line. The system consists of IT solutions combined with slaughterhouse inspection, trained operators and management focus.
CO2 stunning system
DMRI has patented the group-based CO2 stunning system, and today it is installed in many places around the world. Moreover, in order to reduce the use of force, behavioural pattern based nudging has been included in the lairage systems, e.g. having light in front of the animals and a small elevation angle of the floor in order to incite the groups of pigs to move forward. The improvements are remarkable and can be clearly observed acoustically when visiting the lairage areas. Today, the noise is negligible compared with the old systems where hearing protection was necessary.
Another example of a developed and implemented documentation system is the VisStick. Sticking, i.e. killing, of the pig is a manual process, and there is a minor risk that a pig is not stuck properly. To minimize the risk, we have developed a vision system to verify that the pigs are in fact stuck after stunning. The VisStick system has been implemented at most slaughter lines in Denmark and at a number of plants in other Nordic countries.
About The Humane Slaughter Association:
As an independent registered charity, the HSA is unique in working exclusively to achieve the highest worldwide standards in food animal welfare at markets, during transport and at slaughter through scientific and technical advances, education and training. For more information about the HSA’s work visit www.hsa.org.uk
For further information please contact Susanne Støier, firstname.lastname@example.org, +45 7220 2718 www.DMRI.com