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Survey of the effectiveness of stunning procedures used in Spanish pig abattoirs
  1. A. Velarde, BVSc1,
  2. M. Gispert, BASc1,
  3. L. Faucitano, BASc, PhD1,1,
  4. X. Manteca, BVSc, PhD2 and
  5. A. Diestre, BVSc, PhD1
  1. 1 Centre de Tecnologia de la Carn, Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries, Granja Camps i Armet, 17121 Monells, Girona, Spain
  2. 2 Unitat de Fisiologia Animal, Facultat de Veterinaria, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain


Two pig abattoirs (A and B) equipped with an automated head-only and head-to-chest electrical stunning system, and two (C and D) equipped with a manual carbon dioxide stunning system, were evaluated to compare the effectiveness of stunning in a total of 10,454 pigs slaughtered under commercial conditions. In the abattoirs with the electrical stunning system, the percentage of animals that responded to a nose prick was significantly lower (P<0.05) in abattoir B, where a higher current intensity was used (P<0.05), than in abattoir A. No righting reflex was observed in the electrically stunned pigs. In the abattoirs with the carbon dioxide stunning system, the percentage of animals that responded to a nose prick and showed a righting reflex was significantly lower (P<0.05) in abattoir C, where the duration of the carbon dioxide cycle was longer and the interval between discharge from the system to sticking was shorter (P<0.05), than in D. Comparing the electrical and carbon dioxide stunning systems, the pigs stunned with carbon dioxide were significantly more responsive to a nose prick (P<0.05) and 25 per cent of them showed a righting reflex. Under the conditions of the study the fully automated head-only stunning with additional chest electrodes appeared to be more effective and less susceptible to incorrect handling than the manual carbon dioxide stunning system.

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