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The effect of repeat application of electrical stunning on the welfare of pigs

McKinstry, J.L., Anil, M.H.
Meat science 2004 v.67 no.1 pp. 121-128
swine, animal welfare, slaughter, methodology, electrical equipment, food processing equipment, electric current, electroencephalography
Although legislation requires the production of immediate insensibility, implying that a stun can be applied only once, the practice of repeat application of electrical stunning is common. However, the relative consequences of such repeat applications are unknown. This study investigated the effects of repeat applications of electrical stunning (200 V, 50 Hz) following different delays of 15, 60 or 180 s between the initial stun and the repeat applications. The parameters examined, following stunning, were the durations of spontaneous physical activity, time to return of reflexes and the duration of the epileptiform activity in the electrocorticogram. The results showed that repeat application of electrical stunning can produce successive epileptic activity and therefore an effective stun. The duration of tonic and clonic phase activity following repeat application was significantly shorter than after a single stun only. There was a tendency for the reflexes to return more quickly following repeat application. The use of electrical stunning to re-stun pigs appears to raise no welfare concerns and although commonly used, should only be applied out of necessity rather than as routine practice.