Submitted to: World Poultry Congress Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/13/2012
Publication Date: 8/5/2012
Citation: Buhr, R.J. 2012. Stunning systems for poultry. World Poultry Congress Proceedings. PL11 6 pages.
Technical Abstract: Poultry are stunned immediately prior to slaughter to facilitate automated processing, to minimize the subsequent death struggle and thereby minimize carcass damage and down grades, and to render the bird unconscious and incapable to perceive pain. A stunning method for slaughter should be considered acceptable if the following criteria are attained. 1) Stunning resulted 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 intervened. 3) There was a near zero occurrence of “under stunned” and unstunned individuals. Stunning by definition must permit the stunned animals to recover consciousness. Adequately electrically stunned broilers should recover consciousness, to the level of regaining the ability to maintain an erect posture, within 120 seconds following the stun. Therefore, electrical stunning and exsanguination (bleeding) are integral steps in the slaughter of poultry and should be evaluated together in the progression to death. In contrast, poultry subjected to electrocution or gas stun-killing protocols are characterized as stun-kill because by design these birds will not regain consciousness at any time point even in the absence of exsanguination. Common electrical and gas stun-killing protocols as well as the distinct advantages and challenges will be described and discussed.