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Electroencephalographic assessment of concussive non-penetrative captive bolt stunning of turkeys

Gibson, T J; Rebelo, C B; Gowers, T A; Chancellor, N M


T J Gibson

C B Rebelo

T A Gowers

N M Chancellor


1. The aim of this study was to evaluate the electroencephalographic (EEG) and behavioural responses of turkeys stunned with three different concussive non-penetrative captive-bolt guns prior to slaughter.

2. A total of 31 slaughter weight ex-breeding female turkeys (29 weeks of age; mean body weight 13.32 ± SD 0.65 kg) were stunned with the Cash Poultry Killer (CPK) (n = 10), Turkey Euthanasia Device (TED) (n = 10) and Zephyr EXL (n = 11).

3. Mean peak kinetic energy was highest for the CPK compared to the TED and Zephyr EXL (75.9 ± 4.5, 28.4 ± 0.4 and 24.4 ± 0.7 J, respectively).

4. A total of 29 (94%) of the turkeys were rendered unconscious following captive bolt stunning, with total power of the EEG (Ptot) significantly reduced from baseline values (reductions of 67% CPK, 84% TED and 76% Zephyr EXL, p < 0.01) and waveforms becoming isoelectric after periods of transitional EEG. However, two birds shot with the CPK and Zephyr EXL had periods of behavioural/reflexes (rhythmic respiration, nictitating membrane reflex, neck tension) and EEG activity (43–47 and 36–60 + s after the shot, respectively) indicating incomplete concussion and return of consciousness. In one bird, the shot was incorrectly positioned (Zephyr EXL), while the other appeared to be related to a defective cartridge (CPK).

5. In conclusion, all three captive bolt gun models were effective in producing unconsciousness in turkeys, provided they were positioned correctly and power loads performed according to their specifications.

KEYWORDS: Animal welfare, behaviour/brainstem reflexes, captive bolt, electroencephalogram (EEG), non-penetrative, stunning, turkey


Gibson, T. J., Rebelo, C. B., Gowers, T. A., & Chancellor, N. M. (2017). Electroencephalographic assessment of concussive non-penetrative captive bolt stunning of turkeys. British Poultry Science, 59(1), 13-20.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2017
Publication Date Dec 19, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 29, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 1, 2018
Print ISSN 0007-1668
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 59
Issue 1
Pages 13-20
Public URL


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