A Case of Multiple Stun Attempts in a Bovine Due to Chronic Disease Process Causing Cranial Abnormalities

Andrew Grist*, Stephen B Wotton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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The preslaughter stunning of bovine animals is a legal requirement in the European Union, unless the animal is being slaughtered according to religious rite. The legislation also requires the investigation and review of stunning methods in cases of failure to stun. This paper presents the results of one investigation into the possible reasons for multiple stun attempts on an animal that received five shot applications. The head was hard frozen to prevent the deformation of brain structures during splitting along the sagittal plane, and then underwent macroscopic examination to assess the likely causes of the repeated stun attempts. In this case, a pre-existing chronic disease process produced anatomical variations of the cranial cavity, increasing the thickness of the sinuses of the frontal bone to a depth of 9 cm and filling the sinuses with a fibrinous pus deposit. It was therefore concluded that the anatomical variation produced by the chronic disease process, in addition to the energy absorption provided by the thicker hide and fibrinous pus, led to the failure of the stunning equipment to achieve the desired stunned state in the animal. As the animal displayed cranial variation before slaughter, a review of the stunning systems should include a requirement that animals displaying any abnormalities should be stunned with the highest-powered cartridge available or a free bullet.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • animal welfare
  • Animal Welfare Offcer
  • Captive bolt
  • restun
  • Multiple stun attempts


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