1 March 2022

Ethicist’s commentary on use of Ventilation Shut Down

Pig inside breeding farm
📷 Colourbox.com

Ethical question of the month, December 2021

Ventilation Shut Down (VSD) and VSD 1 (the plus is the addition of heat or CO2) is a mass depopulation method employed in barns in “constrained circumstances” by the poultry and swine industries. The barns are sealed and animals die of hyperthermia and/or suffocation in a process that can take several hours.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a temporary lack of abbatoir capacity, which caused a backlog of animals without access to conventional slaughter. As a result, VSD was used by some facilities. Production animal veterinarians are inevitably involved in choosing to use and implement VSD. How can a veterinarian reconcile these decisions and stay true to their veterinary oath? How is the experience for the animals different than a companion animal locked in a hot car? If livestock production systems are so vulnerable that VSD needs to be an option, do we need to rethink how these food animals are produced?

Clare Palmer, Peter Sandøe, & Dan Weary comment on this dilemma and you can read it here: Ethicist’s commentary on use of ventilation shut down (pdf)