WITCHITA, KAS. — Cargill Protein said it will invest approximately $17 million to replace the electric stunning equipment with a controlled atmosphere stunning system at its chicken processing plant in London, Ont. The company plans to complete the conversion this spring.

Cargill was an early adopter of controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) with the implementation of the technology at a turkey processing plant more than 10 years ago. A growing number of processors are investing in the technology to enhance animal welfare practices and in response to customers requesting it as a more humane method of slaughtering while ensuring the safety of workers and maximizing the quality of the poultry products.

“As we grow our business to meet consumer and customer demand for wholesome, nutritious, affordable animal protein, we continuously explore enhancements that position us as an industry leader in both animal welfare and protein production,” said Claudecir Pagnussatto, general manager at the London plant. “Our new CAS system will help reduce handling stress with chickens, resulting in a higher-quality, more consistent product.”

Cargill joins Olymel, Perdue Farms and Milly Poultry and Costco's Lincoln Premium Poultry as investors in the technology designed for poultry.

“Cargill is committed to ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare are maintained and believes all food animals deserve respect and dignity prior to harvesting. We have led the way in many areas of animal welfare,” said Stephanie Cottee, Cargill’s global head of poultry welfare based in London, Ont.