NFU Scotland (NFUS) president Andrew McCornick has written to Secretary of State Greg Clark asking that the pig and poultry processors be given priority when distributing the short supply of CO2 gas.

The pig and poultry industries both use CO2 as the preferred method for stunning pigs and poultry at slaughter as it is considered the most humane method of killing.

In order to maintain the high levels of animal welfare which Scottish farmers and processers pride themselves on, it is imperative that these plants have enough CO2 to continue to process pigs and poultry at a steady rate.

Brechin site

The shortfall in supplies has already forced Scotland’s largest pig processing site at Brechin to close this week.

Writing to the Secretary of State, McCornick wrote: “Pig and poultry farms are finely tuned and rely on stock leaving farms at a certain time with new stock coming in behind.

Any disruption to the ability to move stock ready for the market can rapidly have consequences on the space available on a farm and replacement animals cannot be simply turned off like a tap, they need to go somewhere.

“NFU Scotland recognises that with many businesses all needing CO2 it is easy to see this as a matter for those individual businesses to address with no need for Government intervention.

Government intervention

“However, we would request that given the potential impact on animal welfare if slaughter businesses are unable to operate - and their relative disadvantage in terms of size and influence - there is a need for Government intervention to ensure available supplies are directed towards slaughterhouses based on their need.

“NFU Scotland understands that supplies are starting to be turned back on and some shipments may be arriving into the UK imminently.

"We ask that Government acts as a matter of urgency to ensure supplies are secured for those businesses needing them to avoid welfare problems developing.”