Procedure—The 3 variables evaluated in each slaughter
plant were stunning efficacy, insensibility on the
bleed rail, and vocalization.
Results—Of the 22 slaughter plants, 17 (77%) rendered
≥ 95% of the cattle insensible with a single
shot from a captive bolt stunner. Twenty slaughter
plants (91%) rendered 100% of the cattle completely
insensible before hanging them on the bleed rail.
Eighteen of 21 (86%) slaughter plants achieved cattle
vocalization scores of ≤ 3%. The mean vocalization
score for all slaughter plants was 3.08%. Vocalization
ranged from 0.66 to 17%.
Conclusions—Results of this study indicate that
audits of slaughter plants by major meat-buying customers
may motivate the meat industry to improve
handling and stunning practices. (J Am Vet Med
Procedure—100 to 200 pigs were scored in each plant
for stunner positioning, squealing when stunner was
applied, and signs of insensibility. All pigs were held in
a V-shaped restrainer conveyor and stunned with a manually
applied head-to-body electrical stunner.
Results—Percentage of pigs that had blinking after
stunning ranged from 0.5 to 7. None of the pigs had a
righting reflex or kicked in response to stimuli. All
signs of possible return to sensibility disappeared
before bleeding pigs reached the scalding tub.
Spontaneous eye blinking was eliminated by improving
bleeding practices to increase blood flow,
ergonomically redesigning the stunner operator's
work station to make correct placement of the stunner
easier, redesigning the head electrode to facilitate
correct placement, reducing line speed from 1,200 to
1,080 head/h, correcting problems with poor initial
contact of the stunner, and increasing amperage of a
stunner that was set too low for sows. In 1 plant, a
fatigued operator was the cause of stunner placement
mistakes that resulted in signs of returning to
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Problems
with electrical stunning can be easily corrected, but
effective stunning requires monitoring of correct electrode
placement, amperage, and bleeding procedures.
Observation of spontaneous natural eye blinking
without touching the eye is recommended for use
under field conditions, because it is less prone to misinterpretation
than are other methods. (J Am Vet Med
Procedure—In each plant, stunning of at least 100
cattle (19 large plants) or a minimum of 1 hour of production
(2 small plants) was observed, and cattle
were evaluated for signs of returning to sensibility on
the bleed rail. Cattle with a limp, flaccid head, a lack
of spontaneous blinking, and an absence of a righting
reflex were considered insensible.
Results—In 17 of the 21 (81%) plants, all cattle were
rendered insensible before they were hoisted onto
the bleed rail. The remaining 4 plants had cattle that
had signs of returning to sensibility; these cattle were
restunned prior to skinning or leg removal. Of 1,826
fed steers and heifers, 3 (0.16%) had signs of returning
to sensibility, whereas 8 of 692 (1.2%) bulls and
cows did. Return-to-sensibility problems were attributed
to storage of stunner cartridges in damp locations,
poor maintenance of firing pins, inexperience of
the stunner operator (ie, shooting cattle too high on
the forehead), misfiring of the stunner because of a
dirty trigger, and stunning of cattle with thick, heavy
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest
that efficiency of captive bolt stunning of cattle in
commercial slaughter plants can be safely and objectively
assessed. Care should be taken to maintain
stunners correctly, particularly when stunning bulls
and cows with heavy skulls. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;221:1258–1261)
OBJECTIVE To explore the extent to which veterinary colleges and schools accredited by the AVMA Council on Education (COE) have incorporated specific courses related to animal welfare, behavior, and ethics.
DESIGN Survey and curriculum review.
All 49 AVMA COE-accredited veterinary colleges and schools (institutions).
PROCEDURES The study consisted of 2 parts. In part 1, a survey regarding animal welfare, behavior, and ethics was emailed to the associate dean of academic affairs at all 49 AVMA COE-accredited institutions. In part 2, the curricula for the 30 AVMA COE-accredited institutions in the United States were reviewed for courses on animal behavior, ethics, and welfare.
RESULTS Seventeen of 49 (35%) institutions responded to the survey of part 1, of which 10 offered a formal animal welfare course, 9 offered a formal animal behavior course, 8 offered a formal animal ethics course, and 5 offered a combined animal welfare, behavior, and ethics course. The frequency with which courses on animal welfare, behavior, and ethics were offered differed between international and US institutions. Review of the curricula for the 30 AVMA COE-accredited US institutions revealed that 6 offered a formal course on animal welfare, 22 offered a formal course on animal behavior, and 18 offered a formal course on animal ethics.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested that AVMA COE-accredited institutions need to provide more formal education on animal welfare, behavior, and ethics so veterinarians can be advocates for animals and assist with behavioral challenges.