WHAT IS STUNNING OF ANIMALS?
Captive bolt stunning is the imparting of a forceful strike on the head of an animal using a captive bolt gun so as to make the animal unconscious. Stunning is usually done to induce consciousness before the animal’s slaughter. The bolt is delivered with enough force to knock out the animal which may partially ruin its brain. Stunning has been used as a humane method of slaughtering animals since the early 20th century. Stunning is the most widespread use of animal slaughter. It is cheap, effective and humane. It is primarily used on sheep, goats and cattle although it can be used on less hardened animals such as pigs and farmed deer.
There are three varieties of captive bolt pistols: free bolt, penetrating and non-penetrating. Free bolt pistols shoot a bolt out targeted at free range cattle much like a bullet. The bolt’s projectile is shorter than a bullet’s and has to be administered from close range. A free bolt stunner is mostly used during emergencies such as when a cow breaks free and it is too difficult or dangerous to restrain it. It can penetrate the skull and lead to death or can make solid contact with the skull and lead to unconsciousness.
The penetrating captive bolt pistol utilizes a pointed bolt. The bolt is shot out of the pistol using pressurized air or shooting a blank cartridge. The name aptly comes from what the bolt does. It penetrates the brain destroying vital parts of it such as the cerebellum and cerebrum leading to unconsciousness. Each method has its advantages and pitfalls. The benefit of the penetrating bolt is that it guarantees that the stun will succeed since it damages the brain. Its disadvantage is that it risks brain damage leading to the blood and contaminating the body.
The non-penetrating captive bolt pistol has to be administered directly to the cow’s forehead and a bolt that has a blunt round-like tip knocks out the animal. The round tip ensures it does not penetrate the skull but strikes the call with enough force to render the animal unconscious. Non-penetrating captive bolt pistols have a lower success rate than the rest.
The captive bolt pistol is considered by many experts to be the most humane method of animal slaughter for a variety of reasons. It utilizes the same mechanics of pressurized air as a standard pistol. One of them is that the animal will feel no pain. The stun from the pistol should be instant and cause the animal to be unconscious from that point and transition seamlessly to its death. Moreover, there is little chance of failure with stunning. You can be guaranteed that you will not be required to subject the animal to stunning twice which would not only be excruciatingly painful but emotionally damaging to the animal as well. Also, there is minimal risk of over penetration into the animal as would be the case if firearms were regularly used. It makes animal slaughter not only more peaceful for the animal but for the humans as well.