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Animals can recover fully from head-only stunning which does not stop the heart. Therefore, animals must be bled within 15 seconds of stunning to ensure rapid death. Even if the intention is to kill the animal by cardiac arrest, it is good practice to bleed immediately in case the cardiac arrest is not effective. Timely bleeding is essential, for both animal welfare and meat quality.

Bleeding involves severing the carotid arteries and the jugular veins, or the vessels from which they arise. It is important that all major blood vessels (Figure 17) are cut cleanly to ensure that blood loss is rapid and profuse. It has been shown that for all red meat species, whatever type of electrical stunning is used, the most effective method of bleeding is the chest-stick, which severs all the major blood vessels close to the heart. This achieves rapid initial blood loss and the shortest time to loss of brain function. Sticking should always be carried out with a sharp knife at least 12cm long.

blood supply

Figure 17 Blood supply in red meat animals


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