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Big uptake for more humane euthanasia device

Producers rush to acquire non-penetrating bolt stunner after Alberta Pork pilot project

A pilot project promoting a more humane euthanasia device has resulted in its widespread adoption in the Alberta hog sector.

“This more humane method of euthanasia is now well accepted and is being used,” said Javier Bahamon, manager of quality assurance with Alberta Pork. “Today, 30 per cent of Alberta’s sow herd is covered. Now we will push to move that even higher.”

The device, called a Zephyr, is a non-penetrating bolt stunner that applies 120 joules of charge to the brain or skull of the animal.

Alberta Pork used Growing Forward 2 funding to purchase 50 units and training kits, and initiate a pilot project to introduce the technology to the province’s producers and swine veterinarians. Bahamon took Zephyrs to a group of producers he knew to be early adopters of new ideas and respected by their peers. Once these operations had received training and began to use the device, word began to spread from producer to producer and Bahamon’s phone started to ring.

“I got a lot of calls from people saying, ‘I want it,’” he said. “Others didn’t want to wait — they went out and bought one and asked us to come train them.”

The conventional method of euthanizing a young pig is to apply blunt force to the head. Done right, this can work quickly and effectively but results are inconsistent and it’s below the level of humane treatment many would like to see. What’s more, many barn workers are understandably reluctant to do it, he noted.

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