Friday, November 15, 2019

Active Research

Ontario Pork has a call for research proposals twice a year (fall and spring). These projects were approved for funding by the board on recommendation of the research committee. If you have questions or need further information about the research posted here please contact Cristiane Mesquita at

Active Research

CO2 Euthanasia System with Improved Process Control

CO2 Euthanasia System with Improved Process Control

Project 18-005- Lead Resesarcher: John Van de Vegte, OMAFRA

Carbon dioxide (CO2) gas is commonly used as gas in on-farm euthanasia systems. This method is intended to provide a low stress event for both the pigs and the stockpeople managing the process. The system is an alternative for those who do not feel comfortable with the use of a zephyr/captive bolt gun or blunt force for euthanasia and as such may play a small role in worker retention.  

Commercially available CO2 euthanasia systems employ a process control method which simply opens and closes the CO2 supply valve according to preset time durations. However, there are inherent issues with the current commercial control methods which can be improved to make the system more humane and efficient.  

Issue #1: Residual gas in the chamber: An effective and humane system brings the concentration of CO2 gas up slowly, so that the pigs are not stressed by the experience.  CO2 gas is heavier than air. High concentrations of the CO2 gas will remain in the euthanasia chamber after a cycle is completed which will then cause immediate stress to the next group of pigs being placed in the chamber. 

Issue #2: Limited Control: The existing system’s control method provides no ability to adjust the process based on the size and number of pigs in the euthanasia chamber for each cycle.  

Issue #3: CO2 Concentration Optimization: CO2 gas concentration is not measured in euthanasia system currently available. 
The objective of this project is to develop a prototype CO2 gas euthanasia system that incorporates improvements to the issues noted above in commercially available systems.  The goal is to create a CO2 euthanasia system that is more efficient, humane and less expensive to purchase and operate than the current commercially available systems as well as to offer a kit to improve systems on farms that are already in use.

Researcher Profile: John Van de Vegte, OMAFRA

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