An evaluation of the humaneness of puntilla in cattle

Slaughter by puntilla followed by neck sticking was examined in 309 cattle, to assess the humaneness of this method. After the neck stab, brain and spinal function as well as presence of selected cognitive responses were measured. In addition breed, sex, live weight, body condition score, number of stabs given and level of experience of the slaughterman were recorded. Repeat stabbing was needed to penetrate the foramen ovale in 24% of the animals, and was significantly less frequent in slaughtermen who were experienced, and more frequent in heavy weight animals (>380 kg). Prevalence of brain and spinal function was 91%. When animals attempted to stand after the neck stab they were more likely to have rhythmic breathing, positive palpebral response and responsiveness to threat, noise and short air stimulus. These findings indicate that nerve pathways are often functional after neck stab and therefore it is highly likely that the animals are still conscious.

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