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The effects of bolt length on penetration hole characteristics, brain damage and specified-risk material dispersal in finished cattle stunned with a penetrating captive bolt stunner

Wagner, D.R., Kline, H.C., Martin, M.S., Alexander, L.R., Grandin, T., Edwards-Callaway, L.N.
Meat science 2019 v.155 pp. 109-114
blood, bolts, brain damage, cattle, olfactory bulb, thalamus
The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of captive bolt lengths on penetration hole characteristics, brain damage, and specified risk material (SRM) dispersal. Cattle were stunned with a pneumatic captive bolt stunner using: standard (15.2 cm; STRD), medium (16.5 cm; MED), or long (17.8 cm; LON) bolts. Heads (N = 293) and exsanguination blood (N = 103) were collected for analyses. Penetration hole diameter and depth differed by treatment (P ≤ 0.004); both parameters were greatest for LON (P < 0.05). Presence of damage in frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes, olfactory bulb, and collective area including the corpus callosum, fornix and thalamus were impacted by treatment (P < 0.003). Treatment did not impact SRM dispersal (P = 0.33), determined by presence of glial acidic fibrillary protein. Data suggest that bolt length affects both the extent of brain damage and the specific structures damaged but all bolt lengths are successful in causing substantial brain damage and subsequent insensibility.