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An evaluation of the effectiveness of handheld stunners for stunning chickens
  1. NG Gregory and
  2. SB Wotton
  1. Agricultural and Food Research Council, Institute of Food Research, Langford, Bristol.


Two experiments were conducted in which the spontaneous physical behaviour, spontaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) and somatosensory evoked potentials were examined in chickens stunned with a handheld, head-only stunner operating at 117 v. Thirteen of 14 birds lost their evoked potentials after stunning, and when they were exsanguinated within 15 seconds they did not regain them before they died. The remaining bird appeared to have evoked potentials after stunning but there was a movement artifact in its EEG and it is possible that they were not genuine responses. When head-only stunning was applied to 50 birds for one second the birds appeared to be stunned instantaneously, in terms of their spontaneous physical behaviour. However, they recovered more rapidly than 40 birds which were stunned for seven seconds. It was concluded that the handheld stunner can stun a bird effectively, and provided that the bird's neck is cut promptly, can kill it humanely.

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