Review Of The Main Welfare Risks Related To Electrical Stunning Of Small Ruminants (Ovine And Caprine Species)

animal welfare; electrical stunning; small ruminant slaughter
First published in EFSA Supporting Publications
20 gennaio 2015
External Scientific Report

The present document has been produced and adopted by the bodies identified above as author(s). In accordance with Article 36 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, this task has been carried out exclusively by the author(s) in the context of a grant agreement between the European Food Safety Authority and the author(s). The present document is published complying with the transparency principle to which the Authority is subject. It cannot be considered as an output adopted by the Authority. The European Food Safety Authority reserves its rights, view and position as regards the issues addressed and the conclusions reached in the present document, without prejudice to the rights of the authors.


 EFSA commissioned a comprehensive review of the welfare aspects of electrical stunning methods for small ruminants with an emphasize on low ampere stunning to establish the state of the art in the field and to assess whether scientific studies would address criteria outlined in an EFSA guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions regarding animal protection at the time of killing (EFSA Journal 2013;11(12):3486). The review was not formulated as a systematic review with a focused question instead the review followed the approach to assessing the literature described by the EFSA guidance. The key databases searched were: Science Citation Index (1900-2014), CAB Abstracts (1910-2014) and Medline (1990-2014). Key conferences proceedings and the bibliographies of review articles were manually searched. The search yielded 1599 records. 706 duplicate records were removed and 894 records assessed for relevance. Relevant studies reported electronic stunning of small ruminants and outcomes associated with onset and duration of unconsciousness. Eighteen papers reported electrical approaches to stunning in sheep. No goats were studied. None of the papers reported all of the parameters detailed in the EFSA guidance (EFSA, 2013) and a risk of bias assessment was not conducted. No studies reported the appearance of the electrodes. When the frequency (Hz) applied to the animal was reported, it was not specified whether this represented a minimum or maximum frequency. Only one study explicitly reported an effect size for amperes. The study suggested that the odds of a poor stun were higher for amperes of 0.6 (odds ratio (OD) of 6.27 with 95% confidence interval (CI) of 1.98-20.7) and 0.8 (OR of 24.4 with 95% CI of 6.98-85.2) when compared to a poor stun at 1.25 ampere.  

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