Head-to-cloaca electrical stunning of broilers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study was performed to identify the electrical current and exposure duration that would instantaneously render broiler chickens unconscious at slaughter when using a head-to-cloaca water bath stunner. The water in which the head was immersed was one electrode, and a steel-coned or cutaneous U-shaped electrode penetrating the cloaca was the other electrode. When an electrode pentrating the cloaca was used, a 640-Hz sinusoidal current induced a tonic-clonic phase on the electroencephalogram that lasted for 10 ± 3 s and an exhaustion phase that lasted for 34 ± 12 s. The heart rate was 375 ± 39 beats/min before stunning. After stunning, the electrocardiogram revealed fibrillating for 429 ± 58 s, after which the heart activity stopped. When a U-shaped electrode was placed on the skin at the cloaca, the same phenomenon was induced. A general epileptiform insult was induced when using a pulsed alternating square wave current of 33 mA (peak 60 V, 600 Hz, and a duty cycle of 50%), which lasted, on average, for 25 s (n = 25). When the broilers were bled within 14 s after stunning, they remained unconscious and the heart activity stopped after 237 ± 103 s. We concluded from this experiment that broilers were effectively stunned with an average current of 111 mA (50 V, 640 Hz, sinusoidal alternating current) for 1 s when using a water bath in which the head of the broiler was immersed in water, with the water being one electrode and a steel electrode penetrating the cloaca or placed around it being the other electrode. Energy use could be reduced when an alternating pulsed square wave is used when the broilers are stunned, by using a current of approximately 33 mA (peak of 60 V, frequency of 600 Hz, and a 50% duty cycle).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2160-2165
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • quality
  • brain

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Head-to-cloaca electrical stunning of broilers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this