Submitted to: Georgia Poultry Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/30/2009
Publication Date: 9/30/2009
Citation: Buhr, R.J. 2009. Stunning poultry prior to slaughter and the welfare advantages/challenges of electrical and controlled atmosphere stunning pp. 90-98.. Georgia Poultry Conference Proceedings.
Technical Abstract: Poultry are stunned immediately prior to slaughter to render them unconscious and incapable of perceiving pain, to facilitate automated processing (up to 180 birds/min), and to minimize the occurrence of the death struggle and thereby minimize carcass damage and down grades. A stunning method for slaughter should be considered ethical and humane if the following criteria are attained. 1) Stunning results in a rapid onset of unconsciousness within a minimal time and with a minimal perception of pain. 2) The duration of the stun induced unconsciousness persists until death intervenes. 3) There is a near zero occurrence of “under stunned” and unstunned individuals. Stunning by definition must permit the stunned animals to recover consciousness. Electrically stunned broilers should recover consciousness to the level of regaining the ability to maintain an erect posture within 120 seconds following the stun. However, electrical stunning and exsanguination (bleeding) are integral steps in the slaughter of poultry and should be evaluated together in the progression to death for all methods of stunning. In contrast, electrocution or controlled atmosphere “gas” stunning protocols are characterized as stun-kill because by design these birds will not regain consciousness at any time post-stun, even in the absence of exsanguination. There are distinct advantages and challenges to both electrical and “gas” stunning protocols which will be described and discussed.