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Review of current stunning methods for cattle and sheep that avoid the risk of dissemination of brain particles into the blood and carcass, and maintain good welfare and operator safety standards
Project Code: M03022
Silsoe Research Institute
Knight, A ;
Division of Farm Animal Science, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol,
Currently available penetrating and non-penetrating captive bolt guns that are used to stun cattle and sheep before slaughter present food safety problems through the risk of neural emboli being disseminated into the blood and carcass. Of the current commercially available alternative stunners, electrical stunning equipment can be effective under optimum conditions, but it is expensive for cattle, and the performance can be influenced by a number of factors affecting both animal welfare and meat quality.
Many sheep abattoirs successfully use electrical stunning equipment with no known animal welfare, public health and operator safety problems. It is therefore appropriate to conclude that, providing this approach does not generate neural emboli, the electrical alternative is acceptable for sheep
Modifications to non-penetrating captive bolt guns for cattle could possibly eliminate the neural emboli problem, but some animal welfare issues would need to be addressed. Some novel approaches may also offer potential after further research. These include development of new methods such as: - i) stun and decapitation; ii) controlled atmosphere; iii) modified concussion; iv) transcranial magnetic stimulationand v) high energy electrical stunning.
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