Pigs are the most difficult animals to stun with captive-bolt equipment. The target area is very small and this problem can be exacerbated by the ‘dish-face’ characteristic found in certain breeds and in aged pigs. In addition, relative to other species, the brain lies deep in the head with a mass of sinuses lying between the frontal bone and the brain cavity.

Captive-bolt stunners can be used on most pigs, but it is recommended that the heaviest cartridge available for the equipment is used, and that in all cases the animal is either bled or pithed immediately to ensure rapid death. The site for stunning pigs with a captive-bolt is 20mm above eye-level, on the mid-line of the forehead, aiming towards the tail (Figures 16, 17). The muzzle of the stunner must be placed firmly against the head.

Older sows and boars may also have a ridge of bone running down the centre of the forehead (Figure 18). This may prevent the bolt penetrating the brain cavity and the pig will not be stunned effectively.

Due to the problems which might arise with adult pigs it is recommended that, where possible, they are stunned electrically, or destroyed by use of a free-bullet humane killer or a shotgun.

pig fig17
Figure 16: Stunning position - Pigs Figure 17: Cross-section
Figure 18: Adult pig cross-section  


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