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Reflexes and loss of sensibility following head-to-back electrical stunning in sheep
  1. MH Anil and
  2. JL McKinstry
  1. Department of Meat Animal Science, University of Bristol Veterinary School, Langford.


The effects of head-to-back electrical stunning on the incidence of post-stunning reflex activity and cortical evoked responses were investigated in sheep. The stuns were effective in terms of inducing epileptiform activity and they resulted in cardiac fibrillation which ensured that there was no recovery of consciousness. Even though the corneal reflex and respiratory gasps were present, in 10 out of 12 sheep there were no concomitant visual and somatosensory evoked responses following a stun. In the remaining two, the responses were rudimentary and it would be unwise to conclude that the animals were conscious. It is suggested that brain stem reflexes following this stunning method should not be relied on as indices of recovery. The results support the view that an electrical stunning method which induces cardiac fibrillation results in improved animal welfare.

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