Despite digitalization and modern machinery – high quality in meat production requires a great deal of work by hand.
Animal welfare in food production does not merely mean ensuring that the animals have a comfortable life on the farm. It also means – first and foremost – making sure that the livestock experience as little stress and pain as possible during the actual slaughtering and processing operation.
The processing operation begins with the transport. This means as of the moment when the animals leave their farms and make their way towards the slaughtering and processing plants. The transport times are clearly regulated according to the respective animal. For example, a Micarna Optigal chicken may only be in transport for a maximum of three hours. The transport is carried out exclusively by trained specialists and the respective rearing methods are always taken into account. This means, for example, that pigs are transported in their accustomed groups. The stress factor for the animals can be further minimised in this way.
Anaesthesia is part of actual slaughtering process. In Switzerland it is prohibited to slaughter animals without professional anesthetization. The anesthetization methods vary according to the type of animal. Chickens, for example, are anesthetized by means of an electrical water bath, pigs using a CO2 mixture, and cattle and calves by means of a bolt shot. The entire slaughtering procedure, including proper anesthetization, is monitored by an independent veterinarian for all animals.
Animals die by bleeding. After successful stunning the animals are "pricked", a process that results in the animals bleeding to death quickly without regaining consciousness. Along with the stunning, the killing process is also supervised by an independent veterinarian.
At Micarna's own abattoir for pigs in Courtepin, this process has been monitored since 2016 using a separate bleeding supervision process and multiple cameras. These record the movements of all pigs and provide clarity regarding the stunning, hanging and pricking processes. Thanks to these recordings, we as well as independent inspectors can review entire processes, process steps or even individual animals from the last two months during audits at Micarna.
In addition to the modern video recordings at central points, the animals are now also weighed twice: shortly before bleeding and straight afterwards. Thanks to supervision of the bleeding process, we can ensure the animals are bled correctly. As a rule, a weight loss of ca. 2.5 kilograms is measured in pigs. If this value is below 2 kilograms, the facility is stopped and an alarm is triggered. The employee will only restart the process once they have checked the animal and confirmed that everything is OK.