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Archived - Chapter 12: Food Animal Humane Handling and Slaughter – Animal Welfare Requirements
Part B: Red Meat Species

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12.3 Slaughter Establishment Operator's Responsibilities

Communication - Guidelines:

  • Communicate expectations to Producers and Transporters (for loading, transportation, and unloading, if applicable).
  • Define humane transport and welfare standards for the "supplier" (animal transporter), similar to any incoming product (receiving of animals).
  • Collect letters of guarantee, documenting the parties understanding of their responsibilities under applicable legislation.
  • Provide written guidelines for transporters and receivers regarding unloading and handling, including expectations regarding non-ambulatory animals (down on truck).
  • Provide transporters with:
    • fitness-to-transport criteria;
    • recommendations to minimize stress during loading (e.g., load early in the day to avoid exposure to summer heat);
    • updates if plans change; and
    • emergency contact numbers.
  • Schedule delivery to minimize animal stress.

Implement a written Animal Welfare Control Program so that:

  • problems are reported, documented, and investigated;
  • corrective action is taken in instances of non-compliance;
  • preventative measures are developed as part of the response to identified problems; and
  • normal operating parameters of the slaughter process are well documented so that it is easy to identify problems.

Employee Training

  • Provide humane handling training to all employees who work with live animals.
  • Document the training of each employee.

Train employees to recognize:

  • signs of normal behaviour and indicators of stress, suffering, and illness in each species;
  • who to notify if animal welfare problems or unexpected events occur;
  • what to do with animals that have been compromised during transport;
  • handling procedures for unloading, including special provisions for compromised animals
  • emergency contact numbers;
  • when to notify the CFIA regarding transport issues;
  • how and when to notify CFIA veterinarians (e.g., if there are dead on arrival [DOA] or an animal welfare problem); and
  • contingency plans for predictable events (e.g., storms, vehicle accident, breakdown of equipment, unexpected delivery of animals that have been in traffic accidents).


  • Design and maintain the facility and equipment to promote efficient flow of animals and to minimize injury or undue stress to animals.
  • Design and equipment must have the capacity to humanely, effectively and consistently unload, handle, inspect and house all species that are slaughtered.
  • Design, maintain and operate the facility and equipment in a manner that meats MIR, HAR requirements.

Monitor Animal welfare indicators detected on post mortem (e.g., frostbite, bruising, whip marks [evidence of abuse], fractures, etc.)

Transfer of Care and Control of the Animal

Trained Establishment employee will examine each load and supervise unloading by:

  • documenting the condition of the load and time of transfer of care and control from transporters; and
  • recording the name of the transport owner and the driver, along with the vehicle identification for each load

12.4 Red Meat Facility Design and Equipment

Federally registered establishments must meet the requirements for the design, operation, and maintenance of suitable lairage and slaughter facilities pursuant to s. 28 of the MIR.

For the effective implementation of any animal welfare control program and performance requirements, the slaughter facility and premises should be designed with the following elements:

General Information

  • These must be designed to facilitate humane unloading, handling, housing, stunning, and bleeding of all the species and categories of animals slaughtered.
  • These must be designed and maintained to promote efficient flow of animals and to minimize distress and injury (consider: signs of distress and injury may include: animals vocalizing, eyes bulging in panic, backing up, refusal to move, piling, struggle or panic, missing hair, bruising patterns).

Design requirements for cattle, bison, horses, hogs, cervids and small ruminants are unique for each species, Plant operators who wish to change or add additional species or categories of animals must submit written plans to the Veterinarian in Charge (VIC). Required facility modifications and written program changes (including training) must be made prior to slaughtering additional species or categories of animals.

Facilities and equipment that can reasonably be expected to meet the requirements must be in place prior to commencing slaughter of a particular species.

Where design deficiencies impact animal welfare in existing plants, the plant operator must implement an action plan to effectively address the problem within a time frame that is set in consultation with the CFIA VIC.

Slaughter establishments must have sufficient capacity in livestock pens (or holding areas) to ensure that animals can be unloaded in a timely fashion and are not exposed to the elements (including lack of ventilation on a stationary transport vehicle).

Livestock holding capacity can normally accommodate half number of animals slaughtered in a normal shift, alternately, the operator must write and implement an effective contingency plan which ensures that animal welfare is protected in the event that slaughter is delayed, slowed or stopped.

When writing contingency plans consider/address:

  • suitable alternate locations where animals can be unloaded, slaughtered or temporarily housed (including consideration of distance, weather conditions, total transport time, suitability/availability of transport vehicles and biosecurity)
  • timely unloading of imported animals where temporary housing in other locations is not an option (those animals designated for immediate slaughter transported in sealed vehicles)

12.4.1 Unloading Facility Design

Unloading ramps and/or docks must be designed and maintained to minimize slipping, distress, and injury. They must be sturdy, well maintained, drained, have secure footing (i.e. non-slippery, scored, or slats) and have sides that are sufficiently high to prevent escape or injury.

The unloading facilities must permit the inspection of animals.

The unloading facilities must accommodate the types, widths, and heights of all transport vehicles used to transport animals to the plant.

The yard, dock, and/or ramp must enable animals to be unloaded without a gap occurring between the unloading facility and the transport vehicle(s). There should be no gap between the sides and the floor of the ramp that could cause injury or distraction.

12.4.2 Lairage Design

The lairage facility must be designed to enable staff (CFIA) to:

  • observe and/or inspect animals; and
  • work safely, as per OSH requirements, regardless of the species, age, size, sex, or temperament of the animals involved.

The lairage facility, pens, and gates must be designed, maintained, and operated to:

  • accommodate the species and class of animal (e.g., size, sight lines, height, and behaviour);
  • facilitate ease of movement;
    • prevent baulking, promote one-way flow with minimum stress;
  • prevent injury to animals;
    • e.g., no sharp edges or protrusions;
  • prevent escape;
  • enable secure footing (drained, maintained);
  • reduce unnecessary noise and odours; and
  • provide protection from exposure to the elements, taking into account the origin of the animals, the season and how they are normally housed.

Facility requirements for ante mortem inspection

  • the design requirements and equipment must be suitable for each species size, sex and temperament that is slaughtered; and
  • less domesticated food animal species (e.g.: cervids and bison) usually require structures with solid sides, minimized sight lines (elevated observation platforms or walkways may be required to effectively inspect the animals (ante mortem)and to ensure humane handling requirements are met).

"Subject" Pens

The pen(s) used to hold subject animals must be readily accessible and as close as possible to the unloading docks.

The design must allow restraint of food animals for inspection.

Lairage space

  • The lairage facility must have sufficient space and pens to separate incompatible animals, including separation of:
    • different species;
    • aggressive animals (those that are considered to be a danger to other animals);
    • horses with shoes on hind feet; and
    • animals that are sick, injured, or suspected of being sick; and animals that are condemned.
  • If animals are to be held overnight there should be room for animals to move, stand, and lie down simultaneously (if that is normal behaviour for the species).
    • See also Handling in Lairage (stocking density) section 12.5.3.

Water and Feeding Facilities in Lairage

  • All animals in lairage must have access to potable (and unfrozen) water in sufficient quantity to satisfy thirst.
  • Drinking fixtures (troughs, bowls, nipples) must :
    • be appropriate to the types of animals held;
    • minimize the risk of fouling by faeces;
    • kept clean at all time;
    • provide adequate space for access; and
    • be designed to prevent possible injury.
  • Animals held more than 24 hours must be fed: extended fasting periods have an impact on welfare including increased inter-animal aggression as well as decreasing meat quality.

Ventilation and Air Quality in Lairage

  • Food animals must be provided with adequate ventilation (consider animal adaptations for heat loss (e.g. pigs are not adapted for good thermoregulation and are especially susceptible to high temperatures) air quality, minimizing drafts, noises (increased noise, increases stress, which increases heart rate, which predisposes to hyperthermia and death), dead air spaces, animal comfort.
  • The ventilation systems will be:
    • designed and maintained to minimize drafts that cause discomfort or distress; and
    • effective, regardless of the season or weather.

Lighting in lairage:

  • must be available;
  • must allow animals to be visually evaluated on arrival and for ante mortem inspection (including during winter and summer, at the times of day that ante mortem inspection occurs); and
  • strategic lighting can be used to encourage movement of animals.

Written Programs for an Adjacent Feedlot

The plant operator must have a written protocol that addresses the care and handling of food animals upon receiving the animal for holding in a feedlot or similar lairage adjacent to the plant.

Operators are responsible for monitoring the written program to ensure compliance and to amend it if necessary.

12.4.3 Alleys and Chute Design

Alleys and chutes and stun boxes must be designed and maintained to promote the humane treatment of animals by:

  • providing secure footing;
  • facilitating free movement without coercion and without injury:
    • when alleys and chutes are reduced in width, it must be by a means that prevents excessive bunching of the animals. (e.g.: cattle chutes taper; hog chutes are stepped.)
  • enabling animal handlers to position themselves to facilitate the movement of animals;
  • ensuring that unloading ramps, alleys and chutes do not exceed the maximum angle of degrees of the slope permitted under the HAR requirements;
  • allowing the state of health and the condition of animals to be assessed; and
  • Gates and mechanical pushers must be designed, maintained and used in a manner that does not cause avoidable pain and distress.

Note: width, curvature, lighting, and visual environment are important considerations for chute design.

12.4.4 Pre-Stun Pen(s) Design

Design must facilitate the movement and supply of animals for slaughter.

  • A pre-stun pen between the holding pens and the chute promotes continuous flow of animals.
  • Pens with solid sides facilitate the movement of some species.

12.4.5 Stunning Area And Equipment For Stunning, Restraint Performance Requirements as Part of the Control Programs

The stunning area equipment used to stun, restrain, and convey food animals must be designed, maintained, and operated so:

  • animals have secure footing in the stun box;
  • animals enter the system without balking;
  • animals cannot turn around;
  • there is good access to the animal for stunning;
  • the animal can be monitored after they are stunned;
  • animals can be removed in case of emergency;
  • the equipment is operated in such a way that avoids causing stress or pain;
  • stunning boxes can accommodate and/or be adjusted to fit all sizes of animals slaughtered in the plant, so they can be effectively stunned; and
  • in most cases one animal is placed in the stunning box at a time to limit injury (except sheep, goats, pigs, and small cervids where animals can be less stressed when stunned in a group stun pen).

12.4.6 Cleaning and Maintenance of Stunning Equipment

The plant operator must have a written cleaning and maintenance program for all equipment associated with stunning and slaughter. The program must be effective and should meet the minimum requirements of the manufacturer. In situations where the operational conditions do not meet the equipment manufacturer's recommendations, documentation must be developed and maintained to explain the rationale for the variations. The program must be monitored on a regular basis and updated when equipment is replaced, modified or as required.

Cleaning and maintenance of stunning and restraint equipment must be performed as frequently as required to ensure they are maintained in good working condition.

Electrical stunning apparatus should be tested prior to use on animals, using appropriate resistors or dummy loads, as per the manufacturer's directions, ensuring the power is adequate to stun. Do not use live animals to test equipment.

Captive bolt function, including bolt velocity must be checked (using volt velocity checker or similar) as per the manufacturer's instructions.

The operator will maintain records of cleaning, maintenance, and monitoring of stunning equipment for one year.

Backup stunning equipment must be readily available for use and must be similarly cleaned and maintained.

12.5 Care and Handling of Red Meat Animals

The plant operator's Written Animal Welfare Control Program must address:

  • the care and handling of food animals delivered to and held at the plant;
  • the species, size, temperament and category of animals slaughtered;
  • monitoring the written program to ensure compliance; and
  • movement and handling animals must be done with a minimum of discomfort and excitement to prevent avoidable distress and pain:
    • minimize unnecessary noise;
    • minimize mixing of lots of animals;
    • select an appropriate group size when moving animals; and
    • do not use dogs to move food animals in federal establishments.

12.5.1 Live Animal Receiving

The condition of animals received must be assessed by establishment personnel upon their arrival at the plant with criteria and procedures to be defined in the Establishment's Written Animal Welfare Program. In addition, the operator will ensure:

  • personnel recognize normal behaviours;
  • personnel recognize abnormal behaviours that indicate suffering due to disease, injury or any other cause of abnormal behaviour;
  • ante mortem inspection is performed as described in MOP Chapter 17 Ante and Post Mortem Inspection Procedures, Dispositions, Monitoring and Controls – Red Meat Species, Ostriches, Rheas and Emus;
  • animals are evaluated for distress or suffering as soon as possible;
  • all compromised animals are identified; and
  • compromised animals that are suffering are humanely euthanized or slaughtered as soon as possible:
    • CFIA (VIC) must be notified about all these cases;
    • notification will occur before an establishment takes action with a compromised animal, except in situations where a prior (written) arrangement is made with the VIC and including those animals that arrive outside of the hours of operation; and
    • plant operators will keep records of these cases.

12.5.2 Handling Non-Ambulatory and Compromised Animals

Operators are required to make provision for injured and non-ambulatory animals in their facility.

The written animal welfare program must detail SOPs and training for establishment personnel to address non-ambulatory and compromised animals both:

  • on a transport vehicle; and
  • in the establishment. Non-Ambulatory (Downers) in the Establishment

Non-ambulatory (downers) in the establishment:

  • are a priority and must be addressed immediately;
  • must not be moved while they are conscious;
  • must be stunned for slaughter or euthanized where they are located;
  • must be protected from injury caused by other animals; and
  • must be stunned before being loaded onto any moving device.

Non-ambulatory animals that are eligible for slaughter must:

  • be identified;
  • receive veterinary inspection prior to slaughter, and
  • be stunned and the carcass taken immediately to the kill floor.

Operators must clearly define the procedure to handle compromised animals, (including stressed hogs), those unwilling or unable to move, and those that "go down" on unloading chutes and in lairage.

  • Animals can be euthanized where they lie or can be allowed time to recover with protection from stress or injury until they can move under their own power.
  • These animals must not be physically encouraged, pushed, or dragged.
  • Establishment staff members who euthanize animals must be trained and competent. Stressed Hogs

  • The desired outcome of the operator's procedure is that severely stressed animals are not stressed any further.
  • SOPs and training should address:
    • handling guidelines for employees:
      • what to evaluate including:
      • the number of animals affected;
      • severity and duration of signs will determine the most humane approach for handling the stressed hogs;
      • In the case of a severely stressed hog, either ambulatory or non-ambulatory, that is trembling, has patching skin discolouration and laboured breathing, it is unlikely to recover and must be killed immediately;
        • Options for humane handling of these animals include:
          • Immediate euthanasia where it is found and hold for veterinary inspection prior to disposal of the carcass as inedible
          • If a CFIA veterinarian or inspector is immediately available to perform an antemortem inspection and subsequently authorizes slaughter, then the animal is stunned where it is found and moved immediately to be bled and hung for evisceration
      • Less severely affected hogs where recovery is believed to be possible can be allowed to rest to recover, for a period of time that is not so unreasonably long as to cause undue stress, while being protected from continued stressors, including physical interaction with other hogs;
      • a written record of the animal, the events and actions taken.

12.5.3 Handling in Lairage

The plant operator's written animal welfare plan will ensure that:

  • the condition and state of health of animals in lairage are monitored regularly;
  • animals are moved calmly to avoid undue stress, slipping, and falling;
  • handlers avoid rushing or handling animals aggressively;
  • lairages are adequately cleaned (consider: hygiene, comfort, air quality, food safety, bio security);
  • the number of animals (for all sizes and categories) are indicated for each pen and holding area area:
    • The intent is to provide guidance about how many animals should be in each pen, the "appropriate" number will change with the situation.
    • Stocking densities for lairage of food animals are not prescribed, the huge variation in size of animals, behaviour, environmental factors, ambient temperature and facility design dictates that this is an outcome based decision.
    • Consider: animals must have access to water(sufficient room for animals to negotiate their way to the water), segregation from animals that cause potential harm, ventilation and secure footing (drainage) and must be protected from avoidable distress.
    • Rule of thumb (per Temple Grandin): if all the animals were moved into one corner, there should be approximately ⅓ of the pen empty.
  • incompatible animals are segregated and penned separately;
  • provision is made to address the specific needs of lactating dairy cattle; and
  • very young animals (e.g. calves 8 days or less of age) are not to be transported or handled in a way that will cause undue suffering, avoidable pain or avoidable distress. Calves that arrive at a slaughter plant and have the appearance of a newborn should be humanely euthanized for welfare reasons.

Animals born during the journey or in lairage must be:

  • humanely euthanized; or
  • the dam and offspring are placed in a bedded pen containing no other animals, pending a disposition decision by the CFIA or VIC.
  • Animals subject to heat stress, such as pigs, can be cooled by the use of water sprays, fans, or other suitable means. Care must be taken to ensure animals are not chilled during periods of cooler temperature or exposed to excessive humidity and temperatures in hot weather. Intermittent spays often work better. There must be sufficient space for animals to move away from continuous water sprays or fans.

Washing sprays must be monitored to avoid causing unnecessary distress (e.g., avoid using sprays in very cold conditions or in very humid conditions).

Animals in lairage must have continuous access to water in accordance with MIR 65.

Animals held longer than 24 hours must be provided with appropriate feed (MIR 65).

Animals held overnight must be placed into clean pens that are drained or that have sufficient bedding to absorb urine.

The comfort and cleanliness of animals is monitored, as part of the operators' written animal welfare plan

Animals held overnight may require bedding: consider the management conditions animals are accustomed to, the normal group housing resting behaviours, food safety and biosecurity issues)

Animals must not be kept in a registered establishment for more than one week (MIR 43)

Animals must not be removed from a registered establishment without the written permission of the VIC, in accordance with MIR 43.

Live animals must not be left in restrainers (that is, shackles, stun box) during scheduled breaks and extended breakdowns MIR 62 (1).

12.5.4 Handling Aid

  • Use handling aids to encourage and direct movement with minimum contact.
  • The operator will ensure that handling aids are not used with excessive force. Electric Prod Use

Use prods:

  • only to the degree necessary to assist with movement of the animals, applying the lowest effective voltage/amperage;
  • at a maximum of 50 volts; and
  • on pigs and large ruminants only.

Electric prods must not be used on:

  • sheep and goats of any age, or on calves (less than 3 months of age), piglets, or horses;
  • sensitive areas, such as the face, anus, genital region, udder, or belly;
  • compromised animals, non-ambulatory animals that cannot move; and
  • animals that have little or no room to move. Acceptable Handling Aids

  • may include panels, flags, plastic paddles, flappers, moving boards, plastic bags, and metallic rattles Unacceptable Handling Aids and Restraint

  • Implements, such as large sticks, sticks with sharp ends, metal piping, fencing wire, or heavy leather belts, are not to be used move animals.
  • Mechanical clamping or tying if the legs or feet of animals as a method of restraint are not acceptable.
  • Whips can only be used to create noise. Whips cannot contact the animal. Whipping an animal is unacceptable.

12.6 Euthanasia In Lairage

(Refer to 12.5.2 Handling Non-Ambulatory and Compromised Animals)

It is sometimes necessary to euthanize compromised animals or those that are suffering.

Euthanasia with captive bolt

  • Penetrative captive bolt stunning is theoretically reversible. The operator must have a written protocol in place to ensure that animals stunned in this way remain insensible until they are dead.
  • The procedure must be monitored as part of the written program.
  • One or more of the following methods may be considered:
    • a trained person remains with the animal for 30 minutes or until there are demonstrable signs that it is dead (no breathing, no corneal reflex, lack of anal tone, cyanotic mucous membranes); or
    • exsanguination (intrathoracic bleed [chest stick]); or
    • pithing is recommended.

Note: Pithing must not be performed on those animals destined for human consumption.

12.7 Stunning, Bleeding, and Shackling of Red Meat Species

12.7.1 Humane Stunning

  • The stunning effectiveness is only as good as the maintenance of the equipment, the training of staff, and the monitoring of the process.
  • Stunning, stunning equipment and personnel must be monitored on a routine basis.

Plant operators shall have:

  • trained, competent stunning personnel:
    • written training program for stunner operators, including training to recognize signs of return to sensibility and the operation of the stunning device(s) and proper procedure(s) if animals receive an ineffective stun;
  • written handling and stunning protocols for each method of stunning and category of animal slaughtered:
    • the program must include monitoring sensibility daily and the actions to be taken if an ineffective stun occurs;
  • methods of stunning that meet industry standards and regulatory requirements, which are suitable for the class of animals slaughtered;
  • backup stunning devices readily available for immediate use if the primary method of stunning fails;
  • equipment maintained in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations and the written program; and
  • SOPs to ensure animals are not held in restrainers during scheduled breaks and extended breakdowns.

Operators will ensure:

  • all food animals are killed or rendered insensible before bleeding with the exception of ritual slaughter (Refer to 12.7.10 Ritual Slaughter and MIR section 77);
  • animals are immediately and effectively stunned on a consistent basis;
  • animals that are improperly stunned are immediately re-stunned in a humane manner;
  • stunned animals are bled as soon as possible;
  • animals are not stunned when bleeding may be delayed;
  • plant staff assesses the level of sensibility in all animals prior to shackling and sticking;
  • all red meat animals are rendered insensible before being shackled and suspended for slaughter (MIR 78);
  • stunned animals do not regain sensibility before death; and
  • immediate corrective action is taken if there are signs to suggest an animal may regain, or has regained, sensibility.

12.7.2 Stunning Equipment Operator Responsibilities

The stunner operator and their supervisors will ensure that:

  • animals are appropriately restrained for stunning;
  • animals are immediately and effectively stunned on a consistent basis; and
  • repeated failures to stun and/ or ineffective stunning (outside the acceptable objective standards) are investigated.

Corrective action must be taken immediately.

  • The investigation of repeated failures to stun, or failure to meet object standards for effective stunning may include stopping the kill.
  • The investigation of repeated failures to stun and/or failure to meet objective standards for effective stunning will include notifying the supervisor and the CFIA.

12.7.3 Assessing Sensibility (Consciousness)

Operators of establishments will include written training programs to ensure that stunner operators and their supervisors recognize:

  • signs of return to sensibility for the species and type of stunning equipment used;
  • proper procedure(s) to follow, if animals receive an ineffective stun; and
  • once stunned (or ritually slaughtered) animals must be monitored for signs of potential return to sensibility:
    • return to sensibility is not always black and white; it happens by degrees; and
    • assess the whole picture, concentrate on signs controlled by the brainstem when assessing sensibility (the head must be dead).
  • the following signs and combinations of them can indicate an animal that has been stunned or has fully lost consciousness after ritual slaughter. Note that the evaluation of effective versus ineffective stun must be a collative assessment of all these possible signs:
    • no regular breathing:
      • do not confuse with "agonal breathing" (gasping that occurs when the brain is dying).
      • agonal breathing often occurs at the end of the bleed line and is not to be confused with rhythmical breathing.
      • do not shackle an animal that is breathing rhythmically.
    • no natural blinking or eye movements (including nystagmus or tracking of movements):
      • corneal reflex can be a useful test but do not use it as a routine evaluation of stunning , testing this reflex requires close proximity to the animal and is variable in interpretation (e.g. not a reliable indicator for electric stunning).
    • no righting reflex (animals attempting to right themselves will have an arched back, and attempt to raise its head):
      • evaluate in context of other signs of sensibility.
      • do not confuse random movement of the legs or body with sensibility, in almost all cases, leg movements are reflex reactions (not conscious movements).
    • floppy head ("rag doll-like"):
      • loose tongue (note: controlled tongue or lip movement is also a sign of potential return to sensibility).
    • no vocalization (grunting, groaning):
      • for ritually slaughter: the larynx is severed from the trachea, vocalization per se is not possible. However animals that show vocalizing behaviours after the cut (e.g. mouth open, neck extended, tongue rolled) must be stunned.

12.7.4 Mechanical Stunning

There are two types of acceptable mechanical stunning equipment:

  1. Captive bolt stunning devices (pneumatic and cartridge fired)
  2. Firearms
  • The primary objective of mechanical stunning is to interrupt consciousness until the animal can be bled out. Mechanical stunning (captive bolt and firearm) causes bilateral damage to the midbrain and brainstem (control centers for consciousness, respiration and the circulatory system).
  • Mechanical stunning requires proper targeting, in three dimensions.
  • The most effective entry target for an effective mechanical stunning is a midline frontal approach; the projectile should be targeted towards the animal's midbrain, pons and medulla oblongata.
    • Targeting the midbrain from entry points other than midline frontal is not recommended (for example: the side of the head, behind the ear or near the poll at the top or the back of the head). These approaches increase the likelihood that in the brainstem and midbrain will be missed. A projectile can sever the spinal cord without causing unconsciousness. Brain and skull anatomy varies between and among species.
    • See Annex A for specific species targets.

12.7.5 Captive Bolt Stunning

The plant operator's written program for the captive bolt stunning devices must ensure that:

  • device operators are trained and competent to recognize the signs of an effective stun;
  • the design, calibre, charge, bolt length, bolt tip, and bolt velocity are:
    • appropriate for the type of animal, as per the manufacturer's directions and/or specifications;
    • effective for the operator's intended use; and
    • documented in the written program.
  • devices are of a sufficient number to be rotated to prevent overheating, and available as a backup;
  • devices are used, cleaned, and maintained, and stored as per the manufacturer's recommendations and as required
  • charge cartridges are stored in a clean dry area and have not aged excessively;
  • bolt velocity is checked by a velocity checker, or similar means as stated in the manufacturer's directions;
  • bolt(s) retract completely, as designed, after each use; and
  • devices are positioned against the front of the animal's head, using proper landmarks
  • as described in Annex A, Species-Specific Stunning Guidelines – Red Meat Species:
    • animals are effectively stunned and insensible with one shot; and
    • a backup stunning device is available.

12.7.6 Firearm Stunning

Firearm stunning poses an increased OSH risk to plant and CFIA staff.

Firearm stunning is used only when the:

  • establishment has demonstrated that no other means of stunning is practical;
  • there is a written firearm stunning program, including an OSH protocol;
  • caliber and range are suitable for the species and class of animal;
  • the ammunition selected for the species and body type to be slaughtered provides effective stunning while minimizing over-penetration or the effects of misdirected bullets, slugs or ricochet;
  • ammunition is stored in a clean dry area and has not aged excessively;
  • targeting method is as shown in Annex A: Species-Specific Stunning Guidelines – Red Meat Species; and
  • the firearm is cleaned and maintained and stored to ensure it functions effectively.

There must be:

  • a bullet proof barrier between the stunning area and the kill floor to protect people from the effects of misdirected bullets, slugs, or ricochet;
  • remote viewing to allow the CFIA to monitor stun efficacy and bleed-rail insensibility with protection from the effects of misdirected bullets, slugs, or ricochet;
  • a visible warning system to indicate when firearms are being discharged; and
  • back-up stunning equipment, readily available.

The establishment's protocols and written program must include, but are not limited to:

  • written documentation that the operation device complies with the federal Firearms Act and all applicable provincial and local legislation;
  • a complete list of employees who are trained in firearm safety and designated as competent to use the firearm where necessary; and
  • routine monitoring and documentation of firearm stunning and related OSH issues by plant management, including timely and effective corrective action.

12.7.7 Electrical Stunning

Electrical stunning includes hand-held and automated electrical stunning devices.

The plant operator's written program must ensure that/include:

  • the stunning device is used, as per the manufacturer's specifications;
  • the operator's recommended equipment settings for each size of animal that is stunned including specification of:
    • the voltage;
    • amperage;
    • the current frequency; and
    • the time of stun
  • the electrical stunning device is maintained and cleaned, as stated in the plant operator's written program and the manufacturer's specifications. In cases where the manufacturer's recommendations are not used, documentation to explain the rationale for the variance must be developed and maintained;
  • the voltage and amperage are monitored and recorded throughout the shift;
  • the length of time of the current is applied is measured;
  • the electrical stunning device is not used as a handling aid or restraint and does not deliver any shock before stunning occurs;
  • for head only stunning, electrodes must be positioned to span the brain;
  • for head-to-body stunning, the electrodes must span the brain and heart simultaneously, or span the brain and immediately thereafter the heart;
  • the electrode(s) must not be positioned on the animal's neck;
  • for head only electric stunning, the stun-to-stick interval should not exceed 15 seconds;
  • a backup stunning device must be available;
  • causing immobilization without loss of consciousness is not permitted;
  • An animal that is not moving is not necessarily insensible;
  • hot wanding is not permitted, if this occurs if hogs receive a cardiac shock before they receive a head stun, preshocked animals will vocalize (sign of suffering); and
  • incidents of preshock or electroimmobilization must be monitored and prevented by the operator's Written Animal Welfare Program.

For more detail, refer to Annex A Species-Specific Stunning Guidelines – Red Meat Species.

12.7.8 Gas And Gas Mixtures (Controlled Atmosphere Stunning)

Increasing capacity poses challenges in plants that stun with gas. The animal welfare plan must address humane stunning and future increases in production. Overcrowding in the stunning chamber and increased line speed reduce the effectiveness of gas stunning operation, as can changing the concentration of the gas mixture or changes in the air flow of the stunning area.

Gas or gas mixtures (controlled atmosphere stunning [CAS]) may be used to stun food animals, if the following design and implementation (Written Animal Welfare Program) requirements are met:


The pre-stun facilities in lairage and post-stun facilities are specifically designed:

  • for gas stunning and for the size and species of animal;
  • to avoid injury or unnecessary stress;
  • to continuously measure and display the gas concentration at induction and at the point of maximum gas concentration;
  • the time of exposure must also be displayed or indicated;
  • so animals can be visually monitored during the induction phase;
  • so animals can be accessed if the conveyance system fails, taking into account personnel safety;
  • so the adjacent work area is equipped with gas-measuring devices that continuously measure and display the gas concentrations;
  • to provide a visible and audible warning to staff, if the gases used in stunning exceed the maximum allowed in the surrounding work area; and
  • so the concentration of gases in the work area do not exceed those permitted under provincial and/or federal OSH requirements.


The plant operator must have written protocols for:

  • animal handling and gas stunning (reviewed and accepted by the VIC in consultation with the RVO

The program will ensure:

  • animal handling during pre-stun must minimize stress;
  • the gas concentrations and time of exposure minimize the stress of induction of anesthesia;
  • gas mixtures and methods used are those proven to be effective and humane;
  • DOA are removed prior to stunning;
  • animals do not pile, stand or fall on top of each other during the stunning process;
  • the behaviour of animals during the induction of insensibility is monitored, evaluated, and recorded;
  • exposure time and gas concentration are sufficient to ensure animals do not regain sensibility before death by bleeding;
  • there is sufficient line space to shackle and bleed stunned animals during line stoppages;
  • procedures are established to ensure humane stunning occurs during and as a result of line stoppages;
  • immediate corrective action are taken when stunning and animal welfare deviations occur; and
  • there is back up stunning equipment available at all times.

For additional information, please refer to Annex A: Species-Specific Stunning Guidelines – Red Meat Species.

12.7.9 Shackling And Bleeding Animals On The Rail

(For all red meat species and all types of stunning)

The plant operator's written program must ensure that:

  • animal welfare is monitored and actions are taken when in non-compliance;
  • no red meat food animal is hoisted or shackled prior to being rendered insensible;
  • stunned animals are bled out as soon as possible and remain insensible until death (e.g., do not weigh animals in between stun and stick);
  • the time between effective stun and effective stick is kept to a minimum;
  • animals are bled by incising a carotid artery and jugular vein, or the vessels from which they arise (chest sticking):
    • chest sticking is strongly recommended.
  • the blood flow from sticking is adequate to prevent occlusion during bleed out;
  • staff members are able to observe, inspect, and access the animals for emergency re-stunning if required;
  • during bleed out, if any animal returns to sensibility, the stun and slaughter of all other animals stop, and the situation is corrected immediately (no further stunning until the root cause is identified and corrective action is implemented); and
  • no scalding (hogs) or dressing procedure is performed on any animal until bleeding is complete and the animal is dead.

Starting the dressing process, or sticking an animal, when the animal shows signs of return to sensibility shall not be tolerated.

12.7.10 Ritual Slaughter

The operator's choice to use ritual slaughter carries with it some increased animal welfare risk. Without stunning, the loss of consciousness is not immediate and is more heavily impacted by individual variations in animal temperament, pre-slaughter handling, skill of slaughtermen and equipment than in situations where stunning is used. Competence, Training, and Written Program (ritual slaughter)

Plant operators must meet the following requirements to process animals by ritual slaughter:

  • A written ritual slaughter protocol that addresses animal handling, restraint, slaughter and welfare monitoring of each species and class of food animal slaughtered. The program and its effectiveness must:
    • be reviewed and accepted by the CFIA VIC, in consultation with the Regional Veterinary Officer (RVO);
    • be reviewed and modified as needed by the operator;
    • include monitoring, records, deviations, corrective action, preventative measures, and follow-up (verification); and
    • include training/ competence (MIR 80):
      • including the person performing the ritual slaughter;
      • including employees who handle animals, monitor sensibility and effectiveness of ritual slaughter, stun, shackle, and asses animals on the bleed line; and
      • including when and how to take corrective action.
    • include equipment design and maintenance. Restraint and Cutting for Ritual Slaughter

Each animal must be individually restrained.

Restraint must be appropriate for the species and size of the animal.

The restraint system must have/allow:

  • secure footing;
  • animals entering without coercion;
  • animals are held forward by a pusher or a similar restraining device;
  • animal to fit comfortably (e.g. no lifting with extreme neck extension);
  • forehead bracket and chin lift, or similar device, which:
    • applies only moderate pressure;
    • avoids excessive dorsal neck bend; and
    • has no nose tongs.
  • smooth, quiet operation (no jerky movements, hissing or loud noises);
  • design to allow:
    • effective slaughter;
    • animals to be monitored for rapid loss of sensibility; and
    • safe and rapid stunning.
Upright Restraint for Ritual Slaughter
  • Effective and humane upright restraint systems are available for all ruminants (e.g. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) pen for cattle).
  • Based on current scientific evidence, the available technology for inverting animals for ritual slaughter cause stress, aspiration of rumen fluids, avoidable distress and pain. This is prohibited by MIR 62(1).
  • Operators wishing to use alternate methods must validate that the system they plan to use will be compliant with MIR 62 (1). Ritual Slaughter Process

  • Head only reversible stunning, before ritual slaughter or post-cut stunning is encouraged whenever possible.
  • Pre-slaughter handling requirements are the same as for all food animals. Calm and quiet handling is especially important for humane ritual slaughter, agitated animals bleed out slowly.
  • Compliance with facility design, maintenance and use, pre-slaughter handling requirements and training are the same as for all food animals.
  • A trained competent individual must carry out the slaughter with well-maintained equipment (including restraint equipment and knives).
  • The animal must remain calm during slaughter.
  • Slaughter must be performed by a cut that is continuous and fluid, may be a continuous, fluid back and forth motion for large ruminants, as long as the knife is never lifted off the of the animal and not reintroduced into the cut:
    • The knife must be very sharp for every animal, free of nicks and imperfections and be at least double the width of the animal's neck
    • best practice guideline: cut done within 10 seconds of restraining the head; and
    • a second cut is not acceptable until the animal is insensible.
  • Restraint (butt pusher and neck extension) must be adjustable.
  • Nothing must obstruct blood flow. including:
    • the closing of the cut edges of the neck;
    • contact of the neck cut with the restraint device;
    • ballooning (constrictions of the cut ends of the carotids); and
    • overextension of the neck/ excessive restraint in the box.
  • Blood loss must be rapid with a rapid loss of sensibility.
  • No procedures that could cause pain or distress (including palpation, second cuts, tissue collection) can be done until the animal is dead (MIR 62.1).
  • The loss of sensibility and animal welfare must be monitored for every animal during handling and cutting, bleeding, and release from restraint, as well as during shackling and hoisting.
Guidance: Time to Collapse After Ritual Slaughter
  • Ritual slaughter does not result in instantaneous unconsciousness:
    • the majority of animals roll their eyes and collapse and within 20 seconds; and
    • if animals do not collapse after 30 seconds there is a high probability that something has gone wrong.
  • The operator's welfare program must ensure that all animals are monitored after cut and are stunned if they:
    • exhibit symptoms of suffering, such as opening their mouths and curling their tongue as if they were vocalizing pain (bellowing, bleating); or
    • do not collapse within 30 seconds.
Checking Ritual Neck Cuts
  • Animals must be insensible before a hand or any object is placed in the wound (compliance with MIR 62.1).
Return to Sensibility on the Bleed Line - Ritual Slaughter
  • Suspending an animal must not occur until the animal has lost sensibility (MIR 78).
  • Ritual slaughter takes time; bleed out takes time, ensuring humane slaughter takes time.
  • There is zero tolerance for conscious animals on the slaughter line, regardless of the choice of slaughter technique.
  • The operator's Written Animal Welfare program will provide methods to ensure that:
    • animals are monitored on the slaughter line; and
    • immediate corrective action is taken if animals show signs of sensibility or potential return to sensibility (including: voluntary blinking, righting reflex, rhythmic breathing, physical behaviours consistent with attempts to vocalize) - see section 12.7.3.
  • No dressing procedures shall occur on an animal that shows signs of potential return to sensibility.

12.8 Unacceptable Acts In Red Meat Slaughter

Acts that are not tolerated include, but are not limited to:

  • dragging or moving sensible (conscious) non-ambulatory or compromised animals;
  • intentionally prodding an animal in a sensitive area (anus, genitalia, mammary glands, face) (MIR 62 [2]);
  • repeated prodding of the same animal, regardless of the cause;
  • intentional hitting or beating an animal with any implement that could cause injury;
  • violent acts to move animals, such as breaking tails or grasping eyes;
  • deliberately slamming gates on animals;
  • deliberately stunning an animal and allowing it to recover;
  • deliberate, multiple applications of a stunner that is obviously malfunctioning;
  • hoisting, shackling, before the animal has been rendered insensible;
  • failing to take immediate corrective action if an animal returns to sensibility on the line (MIR 79);
  • dressing procedures commenced on an animal with any sign of sensibility or is not dead;
  • throwing or dropping of conscious animals;
  • lifting or dragging animals by body parts;
  • wilful misuse of powered equipment or causing injury due to improper maintenance; and
  • de-tusking boars other than by an approved means.

12.9 Priorities During Unscheduled Stoppages in Production

Unforeseen stoppages in production do occur.

A written plan must be developed and maintained for unscheduled stoppages. This plan must consider the types and condition of animals on the premises, as well as the types of holding, feeding, and watering facilities that are available.

The contingency plan should address:

  • alternate locations where animals can be unloaded, slaughtered or temporarily housed (consider: distance, weather conditions, total transport time, suitability/availability of transport vehicles and biosecurity); and
  • timely unloading of imported animals where temporary housing in other locations is not an option (those animals designated for immediate slaughter, transported in sealed vehicles).
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