Wotton, S., Grist, A., O’Callaghan, M. et al. 2021. Head-only stunning of turkeys Part 2: Subjective and objective assessment of the application of AC and DC waveforms. Animals 11(2), 286.
Electrical stunning is likely to remain an important stunning method for turkeys at slaughter. The purpose of this study is to understand the application of various waveforms of alternating current (AC) and pulsed direct currents (DC), head-only, to turkeys and to improve the effectiveness of handheld stunning of turkeys. We evaluated the effectiveness of stunning by documenting physical responses and recording electroencephalograms (EEGs). For the assessment of physical responses, the stunning voltage was varied depending on the proportion of animals effectively stunned at a certain voltage level. If all turkeys in a group of 10 were stunned, the voltage was decreased, and the next group was stunned. This was repeated until not all turkeys showed signs of being effectively stunned. The experiment was then repeated at the voltage level just above the one that showed incomplete effective stunning. The effects of the stunning on the EEG recording was assessed in 16 turkeys to measure the occurrence of epileptiform EEGs, in 14 turkeys to assess epileptiform EEGs after neck-cut (bleeding), and in 14 turkeys to assess the effect of increased voltage and reduced frequency on epileptiform EEGs. Assessing EEGs in a laboratory setting contributes considerably to the understanding of electrical stunning procedures. Voltages between 125 and 250 V, depending on the waveform assessed, were effective in producing an effective stun in turkeys in this study.