Application of captive bolt to cattle stunning a survey of stunner placement under practical conditions

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1 Animal (2012), 6:7, pp & The Animal Consortium 2012 doi: /s animal Application of captive bolt to cattle stunning a survey of stunner placement under practical conditions R. Fries 1-, K. Schrohe 1, F. Lotz 2 and G. Arndt 2 1 Panel Veterinary Public Health, Institute of Meat Hygiene and Technology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, Brümmerstr. 10, Berlin, Germany; 2 Institute of Biometrics and Data Processing, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, Oertzenweg 19 B, Berlin, Germany (Received 16 June 2011; Accepted 17 October 2011; First published online 10 January 2012) In two cattle head deboning plants, a total of 8879 cattle skulls were investigated for number and precision of shots. Deviation from the ideal position on the forehead and the direction of the shot were measured, results were then attributed to three classes of precision. In all, 64.7% of the skulls in plant 1 and 65.3% in plant 2 were shot from the ideal position and in the ideal direction. A medium precision was observed in 31.3% and 31.5% of cases, 4.0% and 3.1%, respectively, of the skulls indicated a poor precision. In both plants, skulls with more than one shot hole were observed. Shot holes may indicate the precision of a shot, and thus the risk of suffering during the sensitive time of stunning. In addition to observations at the time of stunning, the observation of shot holes on skulls at random or in total after a day s slaughter can reflect the shooting precision. Keywords: stunning, cattle, shot precision, captive bolt, animal welfare Implications From the animal welfare point of view, stunning techniques during slaughter should be efficient and reliable. Veterinary services need easy-to-do methods for inspection purposes, and in cattle slaughter heads of the slaughtered animals are easily inspected. The aim of this investigation was to investigate shooting precision during cattle slaughter. A total of 8879 skulls of cattle were investigated. Number, position and direction of shots differed widely. Therefore, daily and routine inspection of the heads after slaughter may improve shooting precision. Introduction The slaughter of farm animals for human consumption is one of the most sensitive points for animal welfare and for those humans who are continuously confronted with such situations. Before bleeding, the stunning of an animal provides instant unconsciousness, a state in which the animal remains up until its death (AHAW, 2004). For stunning of cattle, the captive bolt is the instrument of daily practice. Ideally, the gun is placed on the forehead in order to target the brain stem and the bolt is then fired into the head. Immediate unconsciousness is considered to occur from the - resulting damage to the brain stem. The operator may also shoot without contact of the muzzle of the gun to the forehead, depending on the individual situation. For placement, the Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (EU, 2004) refers to the following conditions: directed at right angles to the skull, the gun should be placed at the cross-over point of imaginary lines drawn between the base of the horns and the contralateral eyes and should be no further away than a 2-cm radius from this point. In contrast, Kaegi (1988) prefers placement to be slightly besides the midline in order to circumvent the heavy and bony structure along the midline of the forehead. Effectively shot cattle collapse immediately. A spastic flexion of their hind limbs for approximately 5 s and blankly staring eyes without corneal reflex is noticed, plus a lack of breathing (Grandin, 2002). However, a biased placement and direction of the shot may leave the animal sensitive to unacceptable pain. Ilgert (1985) has observed that a second shot is required in 44 out of 1100 cases. Such mis-stunnings might be attributable to inadequacies in the stunning-chute area, including poor head-restraint facilities, poor ergonomic design of the gun or a worn-out gun, inadequate storage of the cartridges or the inexperience of the operator (Grandin, 1998; Grandin, 2002; EU, 2004; Gregory et al., 2007). In this paper, the placement of the penetrative captive bolt stunner on the heads of cattle has been investigated. Heads have been scrutinised for the number of shots, the 1124

2 Use of captive bolt in cattle stunning position of placement and the direction of the invading bolt into the skull. Material and methods Material Skulls of cattle from two head deboning plants in northern Germany were investigated during 2003 and 2004 for shot quality after deboning and before the final rendering of the skulls. At the time of investigation, 10 to 12 abattoirs supplied plant 1 and 8 to 10 abattoirs supplied plant 2, with to cattle heads being deboned in plant 1 and about 8000 heads in plant 2 per week. Skulls were chosen by convenience from the line after deboning and before rendering: 4592 skulls from plant 1 and 4287 from plant 2 were investigated. It was not possible to trace the skulls back to their abattoir of origin, and thus the type of the gun remained unknown, as was the handling of the operators in the individual case. Figure 1 Grid used to measure the placement of the hole made by the shot from the stunning gun. Methods Precision of the shot. Precision was determined by the number of shots, the placement (position) of the gun and the direction (angle) of the shot. Placement of the gun. A transparent mask was prepared following the design of Ilgert (1985) with two lines arranged at an angle of 908 and with concentric circles at a distance of 5 mm from each other (Figure 1). The dimensions of the transparent mask were adapted to the forehead of adult cattle. The crossing point of the two lines was positioned on that point on the midline that was considered to be the most appropriate position for a shot (EU, 2004), the centre of the horn base and the centre of the contralateral eye were used as orientation points. The actual placement of the gun on top of the skull was then determined and recorded by measuring the distance from the identified ideal position in two directions, along the midline of the head and in the distance from the midline to the left or to the right. The distance of the shot hole from the ideal position along the midline of the forehead (in mm) was called the radius (distance). In the case of a placement rostral of the ideal position, the number was assigned a negative sign, and for the opposite case the number was positive. The distance of the shot hole from the midline vertically to the left or right part of the forehead was called the transversal distance : Shot holes on the right side of the skull were given a negative sign and holes on the left a positive sign. Direction of penetration (angle of the shot). A goniometer was constructed (Schrohe, unpublished) in order to determine the direction of the penetrating bolt longitudinally and transversely through the forehead into the brain. Four metal rods of various diameters could be inserted into the goniometer, thus corresponding to the gauge of the individual shot holes. Figure 2 Method used to measure the direction of the shot (midline angle). For measurements, the rod was then passed through the hole of the lamina externa until it reached the hole in the lamina interna of the cavity. Being now fixed in this position, the rod indicated the direction (angle) of the shot and reflected it on the goniometer as grade, which was recorded twofold. Two planes were identified (the midline and the transversal angle). In both cases, angles not at 908 indicated a deviation from the vertical shooting position; a vertical shot was represented by a 908 angle in both planes. The midline angle (Figure 2): the first angle was placed in the midline plane. A small angle extending towards the rostrum reflected a shot into the base of the head; a 908 angle reflected a vertical shot and an angle extending towards 1808 indicated a shot towards the rostrum. The transverse angle (Figure 3): this plane enabled the identification of the shooting direction in the transverse plane. Looking in the same direction as the head, the angle 1125

3 Fries, Schrohe, Lotz and Arndt Between both of them, an intermediate range was left (shooting precision category II): shots were within a range of a maximumdistanceof3.0to4.5cmfromthecrossingpointand/ or a maximum deviation of 108 to 208 from the vertical direction of the bolt. This combination was assessed as being medium, that is, the shot was not as precise as that in category I. Descriptive data analysis Data were calculated with IBM SPSS Statistics 18.0, separately for the two cutting plants. The respective classes I to III (Table 1) were attributed to each individual skull. Figure 3 Method used to measure the direction of the shot (transverse angle). Table 1 Attribution of stunning precision class Stunning precision class I II III Shots within a range (in cm) of the ideal position Deviation from vertical direction (in degrees) 0 to to and and/or and 08 to to Results Plant 1 Of 4592 skulls, 4399 had a single shot hole. Of these, 64.7% were attributed to category I and 31.3% to category II. Finally, 4.0% of a total of 4592 skulls were beyond the range, which should be accepted in daily routine as based on assessments from the literature (Ilgert, 1985; Kaegi, 1988; Grandin, 2002; Hagen et al., 2002) and indicating poor stunning precision. More than one shot hole was detected in 192 skulls, and one skull was found with no lesion. In a total of 4592 skulls, 367 (7.8%) were attributed to category III (poor shooting precision) or exhibited more than one shot (Table 2). Plant 2 Of 4287 skulls, 4191 had a single shot hole. The shots in 65.3% of these one-shot skulls were attributed to category I, whereas 31.5% of these animals were shot with a category II precision and, finally, 3.1% of the shots were attributed to category III. Two holes were observed in 92 skulls and three holes in four skulls. In total, 227 skulls (5.3% of a total of 4287 skulls) were indicative of poor stunning precision (category III) or exhibited more than one shot hole (Table 3). extended towards the right side of the skull. Thus, recording an angle up to 908, the bolt was shot from the right into the left part of the head. In the case of an angle from 908 to 1808, the direction of the shot was from the left into the right part of the head. Assessment. Results were attributed to three categories (Table 1): Shooting precision category I: shots were within a range of a maximum distance of 0 to 2.5 cm from the crossing point plus a maximum deviation of 08 to 108 from the vertical direction (908) of the bolt. This combination was considered to have good precision and to hit the brain stem with high probability. A shooting precision category III was designed, indicating shots of low precision with a range of.5.0 cm from the crossing point plus a deviation of.208 from the vertical direction of the bolt. Discussion In two cattle head deboning plants, a total of 8879 skulls were investigated for the precision of the stunning shot during slaughter. For this purpose, the number of shot holes, the precision of placement of the gun and the direction of the bolt into the brain cavity was measured. Placement of the gun was determined by measuring the distance from the optimum position in two dimensions, along the midline and in a transversal distance to it. The shooting direction was indicated by measuring the angle of the shot in midline and a transverse plane vertical to the midline. For this investigation, deboning plants were visited; traces back to original abattoirs or even individual operators was not possible. However, in practice, the place of deboning is not suitable for control measures. For assessment, an ideal shot was identified based on classifications of Kaegi (1988) and EU (2004) (Table 1). In addition, a poor shooting precision was identified based 1126

4 Use of captive bolt in cattle stunning Table 2 Assignment of the shot holes to precision categories I, II, III (Plant 1) Precision of placement Number of shots Deviation (cm) Angle of the shot Assessment n One single shot Distance up to to 1008 (108) Category I 2846 (64.7%) 3 to to 1108 (108 to 208) Category II 1379 (31.3%).5to6, (.208) Category III 174 (4.0%) 2 shots shots 12 No lesion observed 1 Table 3 Assignment of the shot holes to precision categories I, II, III (Plant 2) Precision of placement Number of shots Deviation (cm) Angle of the shot Assessment n One single Shot Distance Up to to 1008 (108) Category I 2742 (65.3%) 3 to to 1108 (108 to 208) Category II 1323 (31.5%).5 to6, (.208) Category III 131 (3.1%) 2 shots 92 3 shots 4 on the assessment of Ilgert (1985), Grandin (2002) and Hagen et al. (2002), thus leaving an intermediate category II between both of them. It is well known that non-penetrating captive bolt pistols also lead to unconsciousness by concussion (Palmer, 1982; Finnie, 1995; EU, 2004). In consequence, stunning efficacy does not depend entirely on placement of the gun or the direction of the shot. It is possible that a shot that was not in the ideal position or not at the ideal angle might in some circumstances induce unconsciousness as a result of concussion to the brain. Measurements of the distance from the ideal position and the penetration angle of the bolt do not reflect the efficacy of stunning, as the design of this study did not allow to record any extent of consciousness of the animals. Strictly said, we recorded the daily shooting operations by measuring the performance of the operators in the sense of an ideal shooting position and angle. However, from the anatomy of the skull, the probability of good efficacy should be higher when the gun is placed at the centre of the forehead, as the bolt will penetrate and damage the brain stem with high probability. Kaegi (1988) investigated the optimum position and angle of the gun on the forehead under observation of the animal s reactions, thus being able to control the shooting efficacy directly. A second shot does not necessarily indicate that the animal was conscious of the situation, and thus suffered pain: the operator might have shot out of uncertainty or for confirmatory reasons. Accordingly, the American Meat Institute guidelines specify 95% of cattle stunned with a single shot (Grandin, 2002). FAO (2004) allows a maximum of second shotsin5%ofthecasesaswell.inthispaper,inbothplants, a number of second or third shots were observed in 4.2% and 2.2%, respectively. More than one shot (or even none) should be considered a serious observation, and a skull with more than one shot hole cannot be regarded as representing an animal that has experienced a painless procedure. Individual shots might differ within a certain range, and thus we have used categories (I, II, III) according to classifications previously used in other investigations. For monitoring stunning efficacy, AHAW (2004) recommends the following: > immediate collapse, > immediate and sustained absence of rhythmic breathing, > absence of righting reflexes, > spasms in the muscles of back and legs, > eyes not rotated, > no reflex response to pricking and pinching, > no vocalisation. Recently, Gouveia et al. (2009) assessed stunning efficacy by means of clinical post-stun characteristics in cattle of various ages, sex and breed. Here, the precision of placement was not recorded. On the basis of these clinical indicators, the overall efficacy of stunning was 68.2%. Gregory et al. (2007) inspected 1608 cattle for shallow depth of concussion following captive bolt shooting. In all, 48.7% of all cattle were shot within 2-cm range of the ideal position, 68 out of 1608 animals were shot a second time. Of them, 37 did not collapse with the first shot, even though the bolt had penetrated the skin of the head. In a survey of Grandin (1998), personnel at four of the 11 visited abattoirs were able to render 95% to 100% of cattle 1127

5 Fries, Schrohe, Lotz and Arndt insensible with one shot; at six abattoirs, more than 10% of cattle were insufficiently stunned at the first attempt. This author (Grandin, 1998; Grandin, 2002) refers to several reasons: > poor stunner maintenance, > poor ergonomic design, > inexperience of the operator. In both deboning plants of this paper, shooting precision differed. Shots failed in 7.8% and 5.3% of all cases in both plants, if referring to a stunning precision with more than one shot and with a shooting quality categorised as III (Table 1). Results of Gregory et al. (2007) indicate that the number of shots has animal welfare relevance. Conclusions: need for daily measurements of the stunning efficacy In addition, an imprecise use of the gun might impact unconsciousness (caused by concussion); however, measurement of the number of shots and of the precision of placement and direction may serve as an indirect control of stunning operations. It should be attributed to individuals by workshift, indicating daily performance of operators in the sense of the Standard Operation Procedures as indicated in the description of positioning the gun. In that sense, this paper indicates precise and less precise shots. A check should be made of all heads after the final operations at the abattoir, but before their removal to a deboning plant. Such routine checks as already indicated are possible without any immediate distraction of the person involved with the procedure. In addition, the operator should be observed as well: some operators may avoid shooting an animal a second time in order to reduce attention to their stunning performance. However, where the animal does not show immediate signs of a successful stun, an operator should be encouraged to immediately shoot the animal again. Lack of precision may indicate a lack of training (i.e. information) or involve issues such as work pressure from the lairage; this calls for better management provision (hourly frequency, calming treatment, continuous flow of animals). Operators routinely producing shot holes exceeding certain limits should be sent on training courses. One reason for shots being assessed as lower than category I might be the sudden up and down movement of the head during stunning (i.e. failures occurring in the restraint of the head or the restraint not being in place). Thus, restraint devices for the head of the animal during stunning are imperative. With regard to gun maintenance, Grandin (2002) has observed the best stunning efficacy in plants in which individuals can dedicate themselves to the maintenance of their guns for 30 to 60 min/day. Cartridges used must be appropriate to the type of the gun and the animal being stunned (FAO, 2004). However, there are also situations where the animal is shot perfectly and does not become insensible. This can be because of soft shots, where the stunner does not hit with sufficient force (irregularity of the gun, damp gun powder or a less gun cartridge combination; Gregory et al., 2007). Stunning efficacy is a crucial issue of surveillance by veterinary authorities during slaughter. Checks on such aspects should be routinely performed and the results should be recorded. Such records can be kept and may undergo reassessment in the light of new or changed insights into stunning efficacy. References AHAW (Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare) Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare on a request from the Commission Related to Welfare Aspects of the Main Systems of Stunning and Killing the Main Commercial Species of Animals. The EFSA Journal 45, EU Welfare aspects of animal stunning and killing methods. Scientific Report of the Scientific Panel for Animal Health and Welfare on a request from the Commission Related to Welfare Aspects of Animal Stunning and Killing Methods (Question No. EFSA-Q ). Accepted on the 15th of June EFSA AHAW/ FAO Good practices for the meat industry. Section 7, pp. 9, 14. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Foundation Internationale Carrefour, Rome. Finnie JW Neuropathological changes produced by non-penetrating percussive captive bolt stunning of cattle. New Zealand Veterinay Journal 43, Gouveia KG, Ferreira PG, Roque da Costa JC, Vas-Pires P and Martins da Costa P Assessment of the efficiency of captive-bolt stunning in cattle and feasibility of associated behavioural signs. Animal Welfare 18, Grandin T Objective scoring of animal handling and stunning practices at slaughter plants. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 212, Grandin T Return-to-sensibility problems after penetrating captive bolt stunning of cattle in commercial beef slaughter plants. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 221, Gregory NG, Lee CJ and Widdicombe JP Depth of concussion in cattle shot by penetrating captive bolt. Meat Science 77, Hagen U, Paulsen P, Smulders FJM and König HE Anatomische Überlegungen zur Bolzenschußbetäubung bei Schlachtrindern. Proceedings 43, pp Arbeitstagung des Arbeitsgebietes Lebensmittelhygiene der DVG, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Ilgert H Effizienz der Bolzenschussbetäubung beim Rind mit Berücksichtigung der Einschussstelle und der Eindringrichtung des Bolzens unter Praxisbedingungen. Dissertation med. vet., Berlin, Germany, Journal No Kaegi B Untersuchungen zur Bolzenschussbetäubung beim Rind. Dissertation med.vet., Zürich, Switzerland. Palmer AC Concussion: the result of impact injury to the brain. Veterinary Record 111, Schrohe K unpublished. Schußpräzision bei der Bolzenschußbetäubung von Rindern. Dissertation med. vet., Berlin, Germany. 1128