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Reactions of cattle to head-restraint at stunning: a practical dilemma

By R. Ewbank, M. J. Parker, C. W. Mason

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The behavioural reactions and blood cortisol levels of cattle stunned using a penetrating captive-bolt pistol whilst standing free in a stunning box were compared with those obtained from cattle similarly stunned but with their heads held in a hydraulically operated chin-lift type of head restrainer. Few (8 out of 55) animals voluntarily put their heads into the restrainer, most had to be 'persuaded' (by slapping or with an electric goad) to use the head-restrainer; some (5 out of 24) could not be. The mean time between entry into the stunning pen and the stun for 23 free standing animals was 5.6s and for 19 animals which could be persuaded to use the head restrainer was 34.2s. The cortisol levels in the blood taken at death from 30 animals stunned while standing free was 67.6 nmol/litre while that from 30 stunned while head-restrained was 143.1 nmol/litre. The behaviour and cortisol results suggest that enforced usage of this type of head restrainer could be a cause of distress to the cattle involved.

Date 1992
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 55-63
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Humane Slaughter Association, 34 Blanche Lane, South Mimms, Potters Bar, Herts ENG 3PA, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal diseases
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal slaughter
  4. Animal Treatment and Diagnosis (Non-Drug)
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Cattle
  7. Cleaning
  8. Farms
  9. Glucocorticoids
  10. Mammals
  11. Methodologies
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. restraint of animals
  14. slaughter
  15. slaughterhouses
  16. Stress
  17. stunning
  1. peer-reviewed