Supervisor: Dr Troy Gibson 

Department: Pathobiology and Population Science 

It is recognized that for ducks low voltage head-only electrical stunning (commercially available constant voltage devices) is ineffective. Nevertheless, this method is still used by a number of producer-processors (often with illegal DIY high voltage stunners). There is an urgent need for up-to-date research on the head-only/head-to-body electrical stunning of waterfowl, as there are no minimum required currents under EC 1099/2009 and WATOK 2015 for ducks and little published peer-reviewed information on the effectiveness or otherwise of head-only/head-to-body (non-waterbath) stunning in this species.

Aims and objectives

The project aims to build on the work of Rebelo et al (unpublished) and Gibson et al 2016 on electrical stunning of turkeys and chickens respectively. It will focus on new stunners and/or electrode types for ducks that improve the effectiveness of the stun in the context of animal welfare.

Project objectives:

  • Review of the existing literature relating to electrical stunning of ducks and related species.
  • Refinement/development of electrodes that improve electrical contact and current flow through the head. This objective will be performed with cadaver heads.
  • Assessment of prototypes/system(s) developed in objective ii and electrical stunning parameters that aim to improve the duration of induced unconsciousness for ducks. This objective will also involve determining the minimum peak currents required to successfully stun ducks.
  • Development of practical indicators of stun performance (run concurrently with objective iii) that correlate with electrophysiological indices and can be used by slaughtermen in the field.
  • Final write up, submission of dissertation and viva.  

Objectives iii and iv will be performed under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, under the existing Home Office Project Licence (PPL 70/8864). The student will be required to undergo Home Office Licensee Training (modules 1, 2 & 3, plus bird module) and apply for a Home Office personal Licence (within 3 months of starting).

This is a full-time (12 month) project commencing in October 2018.

Project costs are covered but the successful applicant must cover course fees and their living expenses.

Top of page