Bethan Jones 

Bethan Jones

Institution: University of Bristol

Cattle behaviour: methods for improving the movement of cattle into a stunning pen and the implications for the use of electrical goads

There is currently a problem in slaughterhouses with the movement of cattle through a raceway and into the stunning pen resulting in the use of coercion and electric goads. The major problem of the design of the stun box is that it involves movement of the animal in to a ‘blind box' and thus a dead end.

A knowledge of, and the use of, an animals' flight zone is important when coercing cattle in raceways; however the design of the environment is also important, such as the level of lighting for example. Excessive use of electric goads can adversely affect the animal's welfare and perhaps more importantly to the industry, carcass and meat quality. The overall lighting in the race approaching the stun box and within the stun box was improved and three treatment groups were investigated (the use of: 1. A mirror, 2. A picture of a cow's rear and 3. A picture of a horizon) for the effect on cattle movement in to the stun box. Animals were scored using a scoring system including the ease of movement, number of times an animal baulks and the time taken to enter in to the stun box.

The results show that the most effective treatment to improve cattle movement was the incorporation of a picture of the horizon. This study suggests that improving the design of the stun box in combination with the practice of good animal handling can reduce the number of times an electric goad is used on an animal and ultimately reduce the amount of coercion required to move animals into the stunning pen.

The Final Report can be viewed by click here

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