Providing Less Stressful Pre-Slaughter Handling

Ron Kilgour from New Zealand was the first researcher to discuss that there was a need for greater emphasis on procedures that occur prior to stunning or slaughter (Kilgour, 1978).

Cattle and sheep will move quietly through single file races and ride quietly in a well designed conveyor restrainer system. Moving in single file is a natural behaviour for cattle. In the U.S., large stunning boxes which held more than one bovine have been replaced with conveyor restrainers.

  • Center track double rail restrainer. This system is available for both sheep and cattle. Livestock are riding the conveyor in a comfortable, upright position. This is a very humane method of restraint.


    Design mistakes in races and forcing pens will cause stress.

    One of the most serious design mistakes is laying the race out so that its entrance appears to be a dead end. Cattle will move more easily through a curved race compared to a straight race, but it must be laid out correctly (Grandin, 1980; 1990; 1993).

  • Aerial view of a curved system for handling and loading cattle.
    Practical experience has shown that an animal standing in the forcing pen must be able to see a minimum of two to three body lengths up the single file race before it curves. Bending the single file race too sharply where it joins the forcing pen will cause animals to balk.

    Cattle move more easily through a curved ramp.

    References :

    Grandin, T. (Editor) 1993
    Livestock Handling and Transport. CAB International,
    Wallingford Oxon, United Kingdom

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