Over 40,000 pigs got hog cholera – meaninglessly killed and yet more pigs will be bred
In February 2019, hog cholera crossed the border of Gifu prefecture and reached Aichi, Nagano, Shiga, and Osaka prefectures.
There are many livestock producers in the area of Tahara-city of Aichi prefeture.
Many pigs have been killed since cholera was first observed in Gifu prefecture in 2018. The number of pigs killed has risen to 40,000 in total as of February 2019.
It is horrifying to imagine there will be more pigs killed considering the concentration of such business in Tahara city in Aichi.
The reports by media and comments by concerned parties only focus on economical damage. However, the biggest loss and victims are indeed pigs.
It is not normal that no reports about whether or not animal welfare was minimally taken into account, or that the killing methods indeed were appropriate, can be found.
Many people are concerned about these issues. Also, humans who exploit animals should be held accountable to maintain high animal welfare standards.
Is the killing method in Japan appropriate?
In short, not likely.
At first, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said electrical stunners were used when the cholera was discovered in Gifu. It appeared that pacoma (disinfectant) was injected after giving pigs electric shocks.
However, there were no training, no animal welfare specialists, and no manuals in regards to animal welfare in the process.
In addition, pigs were regaining consciousness after being injected with pacoma, which was not noticed by the staff members.
This was a method used in Gifu prefecture.
It’s unknown what sort of method was used in the other prefectures.
We were not allowed to get into their facility, so we had to rely on pictures distributed by the media.
It appears that farmers in Toyota city of Aichi prefecture were loading a lot of CO2 gas tanks. It was most likely because there were a lot of baby hogs.
Using CO2 to kill prolongs suffering for animals including baby hogs.
According to the foot-and-mouth disease measurements manual in Kagoshima prefecture, it takes 5 minutes to die when CO2 is used to kill animals:
b) First, chase hogs into a container, then move them from the container by forklift to a bed on a track. Cover it by a tarp. Inject liquid carbon dioxide between the tarp and the bed for 3 minutes. Hogs will die in 5 minutes. It takes 15 ml of 30 kg carbon dioxide bottles.
According to the OIE code, it referrers to killing methods used by CO2 as follows:
Inhalation of carbon dioxide (CO2) induces respiratory and metabolic acidosis and hence reduces the pH of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and neurones thereby causing unconsciousness and, after prolonged exposure, death. Exposure to carbon dioxide does not induce immediate loss of consciousness, therefore the aversive nature of gas mixtures containing high concentrations of CO2 and the respiratory distress occurring during the induction phase are important considerations for animal welfare.
Killing methods using C02 is mainly for birds. If it should be used for pigs, it targets newborn hogs, who are still lactating or as big as 10.9 kg approximately 1 to 28 days old.
The cruelty of this method is also proved at slaughterhouses.
Simple systems such as surrounding by a tarp and putting in a bag or a container make suffering even worse.
It’s commonly understood in Europe though this method was once believed to be humane.
Killing hogs using CO2 is truly cruel.
Inert gas reduces stimulants or evasive actions, but this method doesn’t appear to be used in Japan.
If Japan is using CO2 or pacoma to kill, this method is not far from the one in China.
Unclear if pigs are dead
Additionally, we haven’t been able to confirm whether or not the workers properly verify the deaths of animals after giving electric shock and CO2 injection.
Verification of death typically includes;
• Corneal Reflex
• Eye movement, which may be done by touching the eye.
• Rhythmical breath
• State where animals are not supporting their weight on their own
It is not possible to verify death by merely looking at them.
Without corneal reflex or eye movement verification, there are high chances of animals coming back and being buried alive or dying by traumatic asphyxia, of which dying tends to take a long time.
Media reports “some workers had a hard time looking at these adorable little pigs, and suffer from the sound of screams in the shack. (Sankei Newspaper: 産経新聞 https://www.sankei.com/life/news/190208/lif1902080057-n1.html）
While we totally understand how these workers must feel, their sympathy is not enough. If they have a hard time looking at the pigs, they should not be working because it can lead to animals suffering even more.
Panicky animals distract human’s focus. They get irritated with these uncontrollable animals, and handle them carelessly.
If we can share the importance of animal welfare, and the appropriate killing methods based on it, workers suffer less, as well as the animals, as the technique will improve.
How come legislation in Japan cannot do this?
Why do they not understand raising awareness of animal welfare would ultimately contribute to prevention of diseases?
What is the appropriate method to slaughter pigs?
Humane Slaughter Association（HAS）shows methods available for species and their suitability to manage diseases on their website.
A. Recommended Methods for killing mammals
1. Mechanical methods
a. Free-bullet firearms (proper hunting license may be needed in Japan)
b. Penetrative captive-bolt followed by pithing
2. Electrical stunning followed by electrocution
B. Additional methods suitable for use with neonate mammals are
1. Mechanical methods
a. Non-penetrative captive-bolt
b. Manual blow to head
2. Lethal injection
Methods using gas is not recommended. Killing by gas, including CO2, has been known to cause pain instantly while prolonging death.
What you can do
Some say that “there isn’t such a thing as a ‘proper way to slaughter’” or “they will be killed anyway.”
These people are those who don’t understand animal welfare as our responsibility. They cannot face the sufferings of animals and wish to sweep them under the rug.
It is irresponsible to discard the discussions.
Our society creates the sufferings of these hogs. We should discuss this issue in a calm and scientific manner to come up with specific measurements.
The Animal Rights Center sent documents, which entails proper methods of slaughtering for hogs, to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.
The disease will be likely to spread further so we requested them to act promptly.
We would like everyone to push this as well.
Needless to say, slaughtering is the hardest part when meeting the standards of proper methods.
The outcome is cruel for animals when it comes to disease prevention measurements.
Not only is there physical pain but also there is mental pain.
It makes a huge difference for workers if animals scream and agonize for a few minutes while dying rather than if they’re knocked out unconscious momentarily.
It makes a huge difference for workers if animals attempted to escape, ran around during the transportation rather than if the transportation was smooth.
These issues are important not only for animals but also for the workers.
Where to send your opinions:
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
You can also send your opinions to the officials in charge of disease prevention in your prefectures.
Who is killing pigs?
The debt made by killing pigs in farms due to hog cholera will be paid by the government or insurance.
The people concerned will not be questioned even though the spread happened due to their lack of awareness.
They may even sympathize with this tragedy.
But what about pigs?
The animals don’t know of your sympathy, and will be killed in fear and agony if nothing changes... by our tax money.
Who is killing pigs?
It’s this society operated by what we pay.
It is utterly impossible to maintain pigs’ health when we put them in a highly concentrated area, keep giving agony and pain, abandon their feces and urine for days, feed and give beds in their own feces and urine, give no space to move around, given environments where other pigs keep dying daily, and give nothing to do.
Their health cannot be maintained that way even if we give them “white powder” or disinfectants.
We should dismiss factory farming right away.
We will continue to be threatened by bio-security risk and lose lives due to antibiotic resistance, and will have to keep paying tax to slaughter animals if we don’t shift our current methods to the ones that care more about animal welfare, which raises significantly fewer animals compared to factory farming.
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