Scientific Opinion on the scientific assessment of studies on electrical parameters for stunning of small ruminants (ovine and caprine species)
The EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW Panel) was asked by the European Commission to deliver a scientific opinion on three studies evaluating electrical parameters for the stunning of lambs and kid goats. The Commission received the studies from the Spanish authorities. One study was in the form of a manuscript entitled ‘Electrical stunning effectiveness with current levels lower than 1 A in lambs and kid goats’. The second study consisted of a summary in English entitled ‘Effect of the electrical stunning with inferior intensities of current to 1 Ampere on the carcass quality in Pascuales lambs’, and the third study consisted of a summary in English entitled ‘Effect of electrical stunning with inferior intensities to 1 Ampere on the induction to the unconsciousness in lambs’. Reported outcomes for different animal categories were inconsistent and contradictory, indicating a need to validate if the stunning equipment delivered the intended current levels to the animals. The head-only stunning and slaughter intervention failed to achieve and/or maintain unconsciousness during bleeding and the head-to-body stunning and slaughter intervention failed to achieve cardiac ventricular fibrillation in all of the animals, as evidenced by the presence of corneal reflex and rhythmic breathing. No evidence of absence of pain and suffering is presented in the studies. The submitted studies are not considered adequate for a full welfare assessment of the alternative stunning method because they do not fulfil the eligibility criteria and the reporting quality criteria defined in the EFSA guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions or the EFSA opinion on monitoring welfare at slaughter of small ruminants.