Livestock are routinely stunned to render them unconscious and insensible to pain and distress associated with slaughter. The RVC has competed and is conducting numerous studies into different stunning and slaughter methods to improve their effectiveness and humaneness.


Livestock and other animals are stunned and dispatch for slaughter, disease control and population management. The RVC has a well-established Animal Welfare Science and Ethics research centre and members of the team study methods of stunning and dispatch of a variety of species in a variety of settings. The research is designed to help systems evolve and become more humane and less stressful for animals. The research is shared with stakeholders, which enables them to make scientifically informed changes that reduce animal distress.


The animals and settings focused on by RVC researchers is broad. Studies include:

  • Maximising the humaneness of poultry and waterfowl slaughter
  • Investigation of the pathophysiology of captive bolt injury in sheep, alpacas and horses
  • Development of alternatives to waterbath stunning for small to medium scale poultry producers
  • Assessment of the humaneness of slaughter methods for guinea pigs for human consumption in the Andean region of South America
  • Development of humane methods for the dispatch of kangaroo in-pouch young
  • The effect of position of the neck cut on time to loss of consciousness in cattle slaughtered without stunning
  • Comparison of upright and inverted restraint of cattle during slaughter without stunning
  • Welfare assessments of poultry gas stunning methods
  • Welfare implications for new emergency methods whole house poultry disease control killing


Title Publication Year
On-farm dispatching methods used for pigs. Animal Welfare 2021
Pathophysiology of Concussive Non-Penetrative Captive Bolt Stunning of Turkeys. Animals 2019
Electroencephalographic assessment of pneumatically powered penetrating and non-penetrating captive-bolt stunning of bulls. Meat Science 2019
On-farm pig dispatch methods employed in Brazil and stockpeople attitudes on their use.  Livestock Science 2019
Animal welfare and the killing of wildlife by captive bolt in Australia Australian Zoologist 2019
Evaluation of brain damage resulting from penetrating and non–penetrating stunning in Nelore Cattle using pneumatically powered captive bolt guns. Meat Science 2018
Electroencephalographic assessment of concussive non- penetrative captive-bolt stunning of turkeys. British Poultry Science 2017
Efficiency of low versus high airline pressure in stunning cattle with a pneumatically powered penetrating captive bolt gun. Meat Science 2017
Assessment of the effectiveness of head-only and back-of-the-head electrical stunning of chickens. British Poultry Science 2016
Investigation of the humaneness of slaughter methods for guinea pigs (Cavia porcelus) in the Andean region. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 2016
Pathophysiology of penetrating captive bolt stunning in Alpacas (Vicugna pacos) Meat Science 2015
Pathophysiology of free-bullet slaughter of horses and ponies Meat Science 2015
Effect of neck cut position on time to collapse in halal slaughtered cattle without stunning Meat Science 2015
Evaluation of spring-powered captive bolt guns for dispatch of kangaroo in-pouch young Wildlife Research 2015
Factors affecting penetrating captive bolt gun performance. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 2015
Physiological and behavioral responses of poultry exposed to gas-filled high expansion foam. Poultry science 2013
Preliminary evaluation of the effectiveness of captive bolt guns as a killing method without exsanguination for horned and un-horned sheep Animal Welfare 2012
Complications during Halal slaughter and Shechita in cattle Animal Welfare 2012
Pain perception at slaughter Animal Welfare 2012
A review of the humaneness of puntilla as a slaughter method Animal Welfare 2012
Physiological responses of laying hens during whole-house killing with carbon dioxide British Poultry Science 2011
An evaluation of the humaneness of puntilla in cattle Meat Science 2010
A note on the slaughter of llamas in Bolivia by the puntilla method Meat Science 2009
Controlled atmosphere stunning of broiler chickens. II. Effects on behaviour, physiology and meat quality in a commercial processing plant British Poultry Science 2007
Controlled atmosphere stunning of broiler chickens. I. Effects on behaviour, physiology and meat quality in a pilot scale system at a processing plant. British Poultry Science 2007

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