Identification of elements for welfare risk assessment related to on‐farm killing of animals
Animals may need to be dispatched on‐farm for multiple reasons such as culling of individual injured and sick animals, other reasons associated to stock management, or emergency on‐farm killing for disease control. The methods used to cull small numbers of animals on farm are diverse and they may differ from those applied for routine slaughter. On‐farm killing may be a source of welfare concern for animals. The AHAW Network includes nationally appointed EU Member State organisations representatives with expertise in the fields of animal health and animal welfare. At the AHAW Network meeting held in June 2018, an exercise was held aimed at identifying the elements for Risk Assessment related to the on‐farm killing of animals. Experts discussed about methods available to perform on‐farm killing for several animal species (e.g. poultry, pigs) and/or categories (e.g. fattening pigs, weaning pigs) and under different scenarios (e.g. whole pig herd, individual animals). The factors resulting from the application of the methods were divided into major categories: i) related to pre‐stunning, ii) related to the induction of unconsciousness, iii) related to logistics and iv) related to safety and economics. Two separate exercises were held for on‐farm killing for disease control (e.g. Avian Influenza outbreaks in poultry) and for on‐farm killing for welfare reasons (e.g. surplus piglets, lame cows). The resulting elements of Risk Assessment are included in species‐specific tables of this report.