Dr Marc Cooper, from UK’s animal charity the RSPCA, spoke at the conference in Toronto organised by Dutch firm Meyn about controlled atmosphere systems for killing meat chickens.
Cooper is responsible for the development of the RSPCA welfare standards for both meat chickens and ducks, was invited to speak because of his wide-ranging and detailed research into gas killing systems.
Evidence showed gas killing was more humane than water bath stunning systems, he said.
“At the moment, only one poultry processor in Canada uses a gas killing system,” said Cooper. “The majority of birds are slaughtered using conventional water bath stunning systems - which is essentially the opposite to the situation in the UK where most birds are killed using gas systems. This therefore presented a good opportunity to provide the Canadian industry with information to help them select the right gas killing systems from a welfare point of view.”
The presentation focussed on the key areas that need to be considered to help achieve the most humane kill possible when using carbon dioxide gas killing systems.
There were about 90 representatives from all the major poultry processors in Canada as well as Canadian government officials.
Cooper said since his return to the UK last week, he has been contacted by a number of processors asking for more information about the most humane gas killing systems.
Dr Cooper added: “It may seem strange for an animal welfare charity to be talking about killing animals but our welfare standards span the whole of the animal’s life - from birth or hatching to slaughter. A lot of discussions tend to focus on the rearing of animals, but we have to be concerned about the end of life too. It’s very significant in terms of welfare.”