A UK company is trialling a new gas stunning system designed for smaller poultry producers.
Gas stunning is used by many larger poultry integrations and is widely considered a higher-welfare and more controllable way to deliver an unrecoverable stun to birds. And retailers in the UK and Western Europe often specify gas stunning for their suppliers.
But most systems that utilise gas are expensive and designed for larger operators processing thousands of birds an hour.
A new joint venture is seeking to redress that balance, with seasonal poultry producer Kelly Turkeys working with poultry consultant Ed Hurford on a smaller-scale system.
And after two years of development the Gallus Gas System has been approved by the UK’s RSPCA, and will be used by Kelly Turkeys to process turkeys this Christmas.
The unit is highly customisable, but the one installed on Kelly’s farm can stun 300 turkeys an hour, and the firm plans to install a second machine alongside to double capacity.
At present running the machine costs £0.10 (GBP) a bird, but a gas recycling system is planned that it is hoped will bring costs down to £0.02/bird, comparable with larger systems.
A smaller system designed for small scale producers is also in development.
Mr Hurford said: “The Gallus Gas System is aimed at meeting the challenges of smaller poultry producers and moves one step closer in giving them access to the retailers looking for family-owned brands but requiring gas as a method of stunning.
“Complying with current legislative and welfare bodies, the system uses the preferred two-stage method of slaughter which was developed using advice from the RSPCA.
“This is a highly adaptable, easily maintainable and affordable system which will integrate into most small producer lines without major modifications to the slaughter area.”
It is expected the larger device will sell for between £60,000-£80,000.
The company secured £80,000 grant support from LEAF (Local Environmental Action Fund) to help develop the project.