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Compassion calls for major UK pig sector reform

News Section Icon Published 28/01/2022

  • As the pig slaughter capacity crisis continues, Compassion in World Farming is calling on the Government to work with the pig industry to reduce herds to an ongoing viable level to meet reduced slaughter capacity. Pig farmers should be compensated by the Government to either reduce herds or leave the industry.
  • This reduction would be in line with the recent Dimbleby and Committee on Climate Change reports recommending reduced meat consumption in the UK, in order to avert a climate catastrophe.
  • British pigs are most commonly slaughtered using high levels of CO2 gas. Every year, millions of pigs face unnecessary pain, suffering and severe respiratory distress when slaughtered this way. Pigs can even be seen trying to escape from the gas chamber. Compassion is urging the UK Government to ban this cruel method of slaughter and to work with the pig industry to find humane alternatives as a matter of urgency.
  • Any on-farm slaughter of pigs must be carried out by professional slaughtermen, knackermen or vets who are skilled in this area. Slaughter by electric tongs is preferable and where this isn’t available, captive bolt followed by pithing can also be used.

Nick Palmer, Head of Compassion in World Farming UK, said:

“Compassion in World Farming is deeply concerned about the continuing lack of slaughter facilities for pigs and is urging farmers to stop breeding further piglets immediately, with losses compensated by the Government.

“What’s needed is a new blueprint for a reformed, viable pig sector and this current situation provides an ideal opportunity to reform the British pig sector to a sustainable level. This should involve reducing herds in a planned way to match the slaughter capacity, for the sake of both pig welfare and to bring about a much-needed reduction in meat consumption to help meet vital climate targets.

“Pigs should also be fed by-products and unavoidable food waste rather than cereals and soy that fuel deforestation and loss of wildlife habitat in places like the Amazon and Indonesia.

“Improved pig welfare should be an inherent part of a pig industry fit for a sustainable future. This means no factory farming, a phase out of farrowing crates, an end to the use of sows producing large litters and full compliance with the ban on routine tail docking. And this must be safeguarded by the introduction of a ban on the import of all pork products produced to welfare standards lower than in the UK.”

For further information or to arrange an interview contact Compassion in World Farming’s Media Team: 01483 521 615

To request a pdf version of this media statement, please email


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