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. (August 2007)
Video footage taken from the third largest English pork-producing farm, showing pig slaughter pratices audited and monitored by Assured Food Standards
Pig slaughter is an activity performed to obtain pig meat (pork). It regularly happens as part of traditional and intensive pig farming.
Pigs are slaughtered at different ages. Generally they can be divided into piglets, which are 1.5 to 3 months old; the
fattening pigs, intended for pork and bacon, which are 4 months to one year old; and finally the older pigs, such as sows (female pigs) and boars (uncastrated male pigs). The meat obtained from piglets is subdivided into more meaty or more fatty, determined by the thickness of bacon. Male hogs are usually castrated a month before slaughter. Their meat quality is determined on the mass of halves and the thickness of bacon on the back.
Transport of pigs to slaughter and all the other procedures and circumstances leading up to the actual act of stunning and killing the pig are in modern times carefully arranged in order to avoid excessive suffering of animals, which both has a humane rationale as well as helping provide for a higher quality of meat.
Typically, pigs are first rendered unconscious using one of the following means: stunning using electric current applied with electrodes, or stunning using captive bolt pistol, and inhalation of CO2, then in some cases a .22 pistol/rifle which is shot directly into the brain. They are then hoisted on a rail, after which they are exsanguinated, usually via the carotid artery and the jugular vein. After the blood is gone, the carcass is drenched in hot water in a device called a pig scalder which helps in the removal of hair, which is subsequently completed by using scissor-like devices and then if necessary with a torch. However, in many countries across the world, rendering the pig unconscious is not standard practice and exsanguination occurs whilst the pigs are fully conscious.
The pig is then eviscerated, the head is usually removed, and the body is cut into two halves. The remaining halves are washed to remove any remaining blood, bacteria or remains of bone, and then cooled down in order to help with the process of cutting and deboning.
In the European Union, the Regulation (EC) of the European Parliament and of the Council No. 852/2004, 853/2004 and 854/2004 cover various aspects of hygiene of foodstuffs that includes pig slaughter.