Neck Cutting Following Stunning

Birds should be bled as soon as possible, within 15 seconds of stunning. Neck cutting must sever both of the carotid arteries or the vessels from which they arise. This method is recommended to ensure death occurs before consciousness can be regained. A sharp, clean knife should be used to cut across the front of the neck just below the head.

Neck Cut

Positioning of the knife for bleeding chickens following stunning. Both carotid arteries must be severed.


When slaughtering birds for consumption, for food safety reasons, birds should be kept suspended for a while after neck-cutting to allow time for the blood to drain from the carcase. Turkeys and geese must be allowed to bleed for a minimum of two minutes, and other birds for one and a half minutes, before plucking and evisceration can begin.Some people have advocated cutting the major blood vessels via the mouth to avoid cutting through the external tissue of the neck for aesthetic reasons. However, this is not recommended. It is likely that not all of the vessels will be severed so blood flow may continue to the brain. This can delay the onset of death and the bird may begin to recover from stunning during bleeding. This will result in avoidable pain and suffering.

Checking Unconsciousness:

It is important to check unconsciousness by the absence of a blink reflex when the cornea (the surface of the eyeball) is touched. Presence of a blink reflex must be acted upon immediately: it may not indicate full consciousness but the return of this reflex after stunning is a sign of some brain function returning and it indicates the possibility that consciousness may also be returning. Do not hesitate to repeat the stun or use a back up method.

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