Animal Welfare Aspects of Mechanical Stunning and Killing of Neonate Farm Animals and Mechanical Stunning of Adult Cattle

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chapter One reviews the development of mechanical stunning of meat animals, from the pre 1800’s to date in the United Kingdom, looking at the development of the current captive bolt devices used extensively within the meat industry. It examines the current understanding of the use of captive bolt devices and their effect on the animal and introduces the current euthanasia methods used on farm for neonate animals.

Chapter Two focuses on the euthanasia of neonate animals during the production phase using mechanical non-penetrating captive bolts. This research examined a commercially available non-penetrating captive bolt designed for poultry euthanasia, to assess the kinetic energy required to successfully stun/kill neonate piglets with one application and also to determine shooting positions to ensure this occurs.

Chapter Three These three papers present the results of a project focusing on the use of the Accles and Shelvoke Small Animal Tool to stun/kill neonate piglets, lambs and goats, to assess the efficacy of the device in ensuring a single application stun/kill method, and also to determine a shooting position for each species.

Chapter Four Paper six examines the use of macroscopic examination of bovine heads to assess stun issues and to provide guidance and training for abattoir staff. Paper seven represents the first in-depth examination of cartridges and their variation in generated power and hence their ability to produce sufficient kinetic energy to stun. By examining both heads and cartridges we are able to provide government agencies and abattoir guidance to reduce the need for secondary stun attempts and provide avenues that should be considered to reduce the number of ineffective stuns.

Chapter Five discusses the research undertaken, in particular its implications, and suggests further research options that can be carried out in the same vein to improve welfare at slaughter with currently available devices.
Date of Award12 May 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorToby Knowles (Supervisor)

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