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Welfare at slaughter
Onset of death after non-stun slaughter
  1. John Cranley, Cheshire
  1. e-mail: johnjcranley{at}

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A RECENT article in The Farmer (September 2014) reported non-stun slaughter of sheep being justified on the grounds that ‘efficiently carried out, it is absolutely welfare friendly’ and that unstunned sheep take six or seven seconds to die. This is contrary to my own experience in four decades of abattoir supervision and neuroscience research. Based on observations on 800 lambs, non-stunned lambs take up to 65 seconds to die and ewes over 70 seconds, whereas fully stunned lambs take 43 seconds to die (Cranley 2012). Non-stunned calves (n=100) can take even longer to die: in 1 per cent over 360 seconds, 2 per cent over 300 seconds and 50 per cent 120 seconds (Cranley 2011). This is similar to the findings of Gregory and others (2010) in Belgium where, in 174 non-stunned post-incision cattle, 8 per cent remained standing for 60 seconds, and also of Blackmore (1984) in a study including two sheep and six cattle.

The reasons for this prolongation of survival during slaughter are …

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