Li, W., Yan, C., Descovich, K. et al. 2022. The effects of preslaughter electrical stunning on serum cortisol and meat quality parameters of a slow-growing Chinese chicken breed. Animals 12(20), 2866.

Electrical stunning is widely utilized prior to a neck cut to induce unconsciousness in order to improve animal welfare and slaughter efficiency in the broiler production industry. However, slaughter without stunning is still very commonly used in China, in part because there is a belief that stunning reduces meat quality. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the physical (hemorrhages, pH, drip loss, and shear force) and chemical (inosinic monophosphate concentration and reducing sugar content) properties of broiler meat differed between chickens in preslaughter stunning and nonstunned slaughter groups, and whether the groups differed in their levels of cortisol as an indicator of stress. Serum cortisol levels of the nonstunned group were nearly twice as high as those in the stunned group (p < 0.05). Several meat quality indicators were better in the stunned group than in the nonstunned group. We concluded that electrical stunning prior to slaughter significantly decreases the stress caused by slaughter, resulting in both improved animal welfare and meat quality traits.

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