Stunning and slaughter

A captive bolt pistol can be used to stun cattle. This can either be pneumatic or cartridge activated. 


1. Ensure that the stunning equipment is working properly and serviced daily 

-If a captive bolt pistol is used which is powder-activated ensure the cartridges are right beside the pistol and both things kept clean and dry. A humid environment will have a negative impact on the working of the powderactuated bolt pistol. Spare ammunition and back-up equipment should be within hand reach at all times.

-If a pneumatic bolt pistol is used, ensure the pressure gauge is working correctly. Always use the pneumatic bolt pistol using the correct amount of air pressure. This can be read on the pressure gauge. 

-All equipment used to stun or kill should be checked on correct functioning prior to usage.   

-If the equipment isn’t working properly replace it with a properly working one before further usage. 

-Preform regular maintenance on the stunning equipment as prescribed in the instruction guide. 


2. Positioning of the stun device

The crossing point of two imaginary lines, in the middle of the forehead between the eyes and horns is the correct position to apply the stun.

-Ensure the captive bolt is pressed securely/firmly against the skull/forehead. 



3. Assessing Unconsciousness

Please refer to the table below and follow the signs to asses if an animal is properly rendered unconscious. A minimum of three signs should be checked to verify if an animal has been properly stunned with a captive bolt pistol. Educate all employees, so that aside from the operator, all employees can verify if an animal has been properly stunned. An animal should only be hoisted and bled out when he or she has been properly stunned and is 100% unconscious.  


4. Measurement is key 

-Keep a maintenance log and a test log (legal requirement).

-Keep a log of failed (first) stun attempts. Perform a trend analysis to pin point the underlying cause and come up with a solution to tackle the problem.


5. Loaded and properly working back-up equipment should be within hand reach of the stun box

Always have back up equipment ready for use and within hand reach, so a second stun can be administrated immediately in case the first attempt failed (legal obligation). 


6. Stunning bulls and heavy cows

Research has concluded bulls and large/heavy cows are at risk for not being properly stunned. This risk is mainly due to the lack of proper maintenance and cleaning of the captive bolt. Another contributing factor is the amount of hair on the forehead and the thickness of the skin. All the more reason to ensure the captive bolt is cleaned and maintained daily after usage, preferably several times throughout the day. If bulls and cows aren’t being stunned properly and this is a recurring issue you need to purchase a different captive bolt with more power or a heavier shot load. When in doubt always perform a second or third stun.  


7. Re-stun animals directly when the first attempt failed

-If an animal is not properly stunned it must be re-stunned immediately.

-Don’t place the captive bolt on the same place as the initial stun, this will not result in a stun. Use a different position.

-If an animal needs to be re-stunned use a heavier shot load (switch to more powerful cartridge for heavier shots).



1. Immediately bleed the cattle after the bovine has been properly stunned. 

Animals must be bled out as soon as possible after stunning and should be done within 60 seconds after the stun.  


2. Effective bleeding 

A cattle’s brain is provided with oxygen by the jugular veins and vertebral arteries. Therefore, all of these blood vessels should be severed. Death will occur faster and chance of regaining conscious remains slim. We advises to always sever the vertebral arteries (in the chest area).


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