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Humane Slaughter

Improving Electrical Waterbath Stunning

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Electrical waterbath stunning systems are the most prevalent method of stunning used in the slaughter of billions of farmed birds worldwide.

This document summarises just some of the ways that businesses can improve their waterbath stunning systems to ensure that welfare is upheld as required by European legislation.

Although systems may vary by manufacturer, by country of processing or by the individual abattoir, they all work according to the same principle: birds are inverted and shackled on a moving line; their heads are then immersed in an electrified waterbath which causes a current to run through the head and body of the bird. When this happens within the correct parameters immediate unconsciousness is induced.

Legislation on the protection of animals during slaughter and killing will vary globally, however in Europe the current regulation has been applied since 1st January 2013 - Council Regulation (EC) No.1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing. The major provision of this EU regulation is that animals shall be spared any avoidable pain, distress or suffering during their killing and related operations (e.g. handling, lairage, restraint, stunning and bleeding).

For a more comprehensive overview of the ways to improve welfare in electrical waterbath stunning, please refer to the Humane Slaughter Association’s full text guide.

For further information on the electrical stunning of birds and the industry-wide problem of ineffective stunning, please see our presentation on Effective Recoverable Stunning.

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