Last updated 19 September 2022

The most common method used to stun pigs in Australia is a CO2 gas chamber, deemed the most humane method when dealing with large numbers of pigs. Numerous investigations have revealed pigs desperately scream and thrash as they are lowered into the gas chamber, gasping for air until they suffocate from the painful gas. There have even been reports of severed hooves being found at the bottom of gas chambers, indicating how hard some fight to escape. 

A pig struggling to escape a gas chamber at Diamond Valley Pork, Victoria.

The RSPCA endorses the use of CO2 gas chambers as a humane method of slaughtering pigs in Australia, despite investigations proving the agony pigs suffer in them.  

Other acceptable forms of stunning include electrical stunning, captive bolt pistol (which pierces the brain), and firearms. Though captive bolt pistols and firearms are legally permissible, they have been seen on numerous occasions to be ineffective at rendering pigs unconscious, especially larger pigs like sows, as they have extremely thick skulls. 

Pigs being stunned and killed in front of one another with electric stunning.

Electrical stunning never renders an animal permanently unconscious, and if pigs regain consciousness before they’re bled out, they may be conscious during their slaughter.

Once pigs are stunned, their throats are cut open (a practice known as ‘sticking’), and their bodies hung up to bleed out (‘exsanguination’). Their body is then submerged in a scalding tank, removing hairs and the outer layer of skin. Investigations have revealed that some pigs reach the scalding tank while they are still alive and conscious, and finally die by drowning.

Pig alive in a scalding tank.