KENYA – World Animal Protection, the global advocate of animal rights has raised concerns regarding the handling of pigs from the farm, transportation to slaughter houses which ultimately affect the quality of pork being consumed.
The non-profit organization has released a collaborative study undertaken in partnership with International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and University of Nairobi, which collected information on where the pigs were farmed, how they were transported, and gross lesions on the live animals and the carcasses.
The findings under the study titled “Animal welfare and food safety in the Nairobi pork value chain”, shows that most live pigs were painfully marked on the ears with sharp objects such as nails for purposes of identification at the lairage and after slaughter.
This process causes intense pain, causing physical injury and subsequent fear to the pigs and the identification lacerations (cuts) create avenues for entry of pathogens such as bacteria.
Nevertheless, this is a key source of stress to the animal and as the animal fights back it becomes difficult to handle.
Further statistics from the study indicated that a quarter (25.83%) of the pork produced by the slaughterhouse, within the period under review i.e., 5th January and 4th March 2021, was of poor quality.
Almost all (99%) the pigs were poorly restrained, stunned and died in pain. The stunning voltage was found to be 0.3-0.4 Amperes against the internationally recommended 1.3 Amperes and the electrodes used were dirty, old, and corroded.
Improperly stunned animals end up being bled when still alive, able to feel pain and struggle. As the animal is still conscious and normally breathing, it inhales blood from the cut site (throat region) into the lungs.
This scenario lowers the meat quality, giving a poor aesthetic appearance and shortens the shelf life of the meat.
More shocking statistics showed that half (52%) of the pigs were kept for longer than 24 hours between time of purchase and slaughter, leading to the further degradation of the meat quality.
Also, 20% of the pigs were mixed from different farms, leading to fighting as the animals tried to establish a social order resulting in injuries.
Almost a third (27.7 %) of the pigs were poorly transported e.g., tied to a motorbike causing further injuries such as lacerations, bruises and fractures leading to down grading of the meat, which translates to reduced income/profit to the farmer or trader.
World Animal Protection stipulates best practices
The report highlights that pigs should not be kept for more than 18 hours without food and water.
Keeping them for a longer time than that leads to the animal utilizing its energy reserves to sustain normal body functions causing weight loss hence reduced meat to sell.
Meat obtained from a stressed pig tends to lose excess water as compared to non-stressed pigs thus losses quality and lowers in weight.
“Pigs are sentient and ought to be treated humanely during production, transportation and slaughter. Neglecting this leads to animal cruelty and suffering which has an economic impact along the value chain,” says Dr. Victor Yamo, Farming Campaigns Manager at World Animal Protection.
In a bid to offer more solutions to the menace, the study has recommended for slaughterhouses to shift to a non-invasive methods of marking pigs such as with paint or markers.
In terms of stunning, the experts have recommended that the devices used should be clean, well maintained, well positioned on the neck at the base of the ears with a current of 1.3 Amperes.
The report additionally directed farmers to treat animals only when sick which should be done by a registered animal health practitioner.
“They should not self-prescribe drugs or give drugs to animals when not sick,” highlighted the report.
Traders/buyers on the other hand have been charged to ensure that they utilize their powers in ensuring that the pigs are subjected to the right treatment regime before purchase.
World Animal Protection has been championing for animal protection for more than 50 years, influencing decision makers to put animals on the global agenda.