Restraining and neck cutting or stunning and neck cutting of veal calves

Lambooij, E.; Werf, J.T.N. van der; Reimert, H.G.M.; Hindle, V.A.


Brain and heart activity were measured in 31 veal calves during restraining and rotating followed by neck cutting with or without stunning to evaluate welfare. After neck cutting Correlation Dimension analyses and %power of EEG beta wave fraction decreased gradually to lower values resulting in an induction of unconsciousness lasting on average 80 s. Corneal reflex response ceased 135 ± 57 s after neck cutting. The CD scores and the %power of beta waves fell immediately after post-cut captive bolt and pre-cut electrical stunning to levels indicating unconsciousness. Heart rate in lairage increased upon entrance to the restrainer and again after rotation, heart rate variability decreased. Rotating the restrainer 90°, 120° or 180° compromised veal calf welfare and should be avoided. It is recommended to use post-cut captive bolt stunning or pre-cut electrical stunning inducing immediate unconsciousness.