Cone restraining and head-only electrical stunning in broilers: Effects on physiological responses and meat quality

E. Lambooij, H.G.M. Reimert, M.T.W. Verhoeven, V.A. Hindle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Two experiments were conducted to evaluate a new electrical stunning system for broilers. The objective of the first experiment was to evaluate the behavioral, neural, and physiological responses of 27 broilers after head-only electrical stunning while their bodies were restrained in cone-shaped holders. In the second experiment, quality of meat from 30 broilers after headonly electrical stunning in a cone-shaped restrainer was compared with that from 30 broilers stunned in a conventional water bath. Broilers were restrained in the cone with their heads positioned to facilitate a correct stun, followed by a neck cut by hand. After stunning, each broiler displayed a tonic phase, followed by minimal brain activity during bleeding. On average, heart rate was 258 ± 51 beats/min before stunning. The heart was observed to malfunction after cutting. According to the correlation dimension analyses, the score remained low. Within a confidence limit of 95%, taking into account the number of birds with a reliable electroencephalogram (n = 27), the chance of an effective stun and exsanguination with all broilers lies between 0.90 and 1.00 using a sinusoidal AC current of 264 ± 29 mA (~130 V). After a brief learning period, operators were able to easily position the broilers in the cone in a commercial setting. The pH after chilling was 0.5 units lower (P <0.05) in the head-only stunned group compared with the group stunned in a conventional water bath. After head-only stunning, 60% of breast fillets showed no blood splashes and 3% showed severe blood splashes compared with 20 and 27% after conventional water bath stunning. No differences in temperature and color were observed between the 2 groups. It is concluded that broilers could be restrained in a cone, followed by correct head-only stunning, neck-cutting, and unconscious shackling afterward under laboratory and commercial slaughterhouse conditions. When this procedure was used, meat quality was better compared with broilers stunned in the conventional water bath.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-518
JournalPoultry Science
Volume93
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • water-bath
  • slaughter
  • transport
  • poultry
  • feasibility
  • parameters
  • mortality
  • chickens
  • bruises
  • stress

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