Scotland’s only pig abattoir in Brechin has closed due to a shortage of CO2 which is used in stun process for pigs and poultry
Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has announced a temporary derogation to allow some pigs which would have been processed at Brechin, to be processed at an English plant and remain eligible for the Specially Selected Pork brand.
And NFU Scotland has written to the secretary of state, Greg Clark, to ask for the pig and poultry processors to be given priority when distributing supplies of CO2.
The Brechin abattoir run by QPL - a collaboration involving SPP, Scotlean and Tulip - was currently unable to operate as a result of the acute shortage of CO2, which is needed for processing pigs.
Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of QMS, said: “The processing capacity at Brechin accounts for around two-thirds of the pigs slaughtered in Scotland and QMS is keen to support the Scottish pig and pork industry to limit the impact of the temporary closure of this abattoir, including any animal welfare implications.”
“It is particularly unfortunate that the Brechin plant has faced this challenge so soon after the re-opening of the site which had to be closed as a result of a fire last year.”
Following consultation with the companies involved, the Scottish SPCA and industry representatives, QMS has decided to grant a temporary derogation.
This will allow pigs eligible for the Specially Selected Pork brand, which would have been slaughtered at Brechin, to be slaughtered in an abattoir run by Tulip at Ashton.
QMS said the derogation is subject to stringent conditions and will be reviewed weekly alongside other contingency measures. These include working in collaboration with other pork production companies in Scotland which are now taking some of the pigs previously destined for Brechin.
In a letter to Greg Clarke, NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said pig and poultry farms were ‘finely tuned’ and relied 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.”
He said with many businesses needing CO2 it would be easy to see this as a matter for individual businesses.
“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.”