Farms across the UK are “facing a really dark day” as gas shortages could mean pigs being culled because there is not enough CO2 at abattoirs, according to one farm manager.
Around 100,000 pigs are currently left on farms as the industry already contends with staffing shortages caused by Brexit and the pandemic.
But a shortage of CO2, used to stun pigs before slaughter so they can be killed humanely, could deal yet another blow to British farmers.
Kate, who runs a pig farm in the south east of England, told the PA news agency: “Over the weekend its come out that two big CO2 plants are ceasing production.
“CO2 is really important within the UK abattoirs because the majority of the UK abattoirs use CO2 to stun the pigs before they’re then slaughtered.
“It’s also used in packaging of the meat.
“If abattoirs are unable to use CO2 for stunning they won’t slaughter many pigs at all, so that again is gonna add to this backlog on British farms.
“We’re facing a really dark day on UK farms because if we get to a point that we have to euthanise pigs on farm simply because they can’t then get butchered, that would be devastating.”
Farming industry sources estimate that about 100,000 pigs are on farms across the UK at the moment.
Wholesale prices for gas have surged 250% since January, with a 70% rise since August alone, leading to calls for support from the industry and the collapse of some smaller energy firms.
Concerns over gas come as farms across the nation struggle to attract enough staff following Brexit and the pandemic.
Farm manager Kate added: “We have relied heavily in the past on EU workers, they’ve gone home with Covid and Brexit on the horizon and they just haven’t come back.
“We’re asking Government to do something, such as like a Covid recovery visa or putting butchers on the shortage list of occupations because we simply don’t have the people at the moment to fill those spaces.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We are monitoring this situation closely and are in regular contact with the food and farming organisations and industry, to help them manage the current situation.
“The UK benefits from having access to highly diverse sources of gas supply to ensure households, businesses and heavy industry get the energy they need at a fair price.”