Pig farmers in Britain have started culling their healthy pigs due to a lack of workers. Pig slaughterhouses lack workers, who are instrumental in ensuring a continuous process of production. As a result, farmers are slaughtering some of their pigs on the farms to create a conducive environment for the other animals.

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Reports of pigs being slaughtered come several weeks after farmers started issuing warnings. Earlier, pig farmers lamented a backlog of about 120,000 pigs stranded on farms due to a shortage of workers. After Brexit, the meat industry was among the most affected sectors due to a sudden exit of essential workers. The problem was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw many countries put in place travel restrictions. Since then, the U.K. has struggled to fill the gap.

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Zoe Davies, chief executive director of the National Pigs Association, says that over 600 pigs have been culled so far, and farmers plan to cull more. Farmers cannot make any significant income from the culled animals. Industry officials say the pigs will likely be turned into biodiesel and other non-food products. Normally, the majority of the pigs slaughtered on U.K. farms are taken to a rendering plant. Here, the bones are separated from the meat and the products used for pet foods manufacturing.

“Stage one was contingency planning and putting pigs in temporary accommodation. Stage two, we have not got any more space and pigs are growing, there are more on farm that we can manage,” Davies said. “You either stop mating sows, which some farmers are doing, or you thin out pigs so the welfare of those on farm isn’t negatively impacted. We shouldn’t have to be here and we shouldn’t be doing this at all.”

Having animals ready for slaughter on farms stretches the available feeding and housing facilities. Further, once a pig is ready for slaughter, it continues to grow at 1kg per day, making it too big for the slaughterhouse to handle.

According to U.K. laws, farmers are responsible for the safe and legal disposal of their dead livestock. It is against the law to burn carcasses or even bury them, as this could contaminate the soil, groundwater or air.

Via The Guardian

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