Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

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Hoe meet je of een dier echt verdoofd is?
Verhoeven, Merel - \ 2016
animal welfare - animal production - pigs - cattle - sheep - poultry - animal health - slaughter

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Assessing unconsciousness in livestock at slaughter
Verhoeven, Merel - \ 2016
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Bas Kemp, co-promotor(en): Marien Gerritzen; L.J. Hellebrekers. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789462579064 - 187
livestock - slaughter - animal welfare - stunning - electroencephalograms - animal behaviour - consciousness - animal production - animal health - pigs - cattle - sheep - vee - slacht - dierenwelzijn - bedwelmen - elektro-encefalogrammen - diergedrag - bewustzijn (consciousness) - dierlijke productie - diergezondheid - varkens - rundvee - schapen

Assessing unconsciousness in livestock at different stages of the slaughter process is a legal requirement according to EU legislation. The assessment can be based on absence of readily observable indicators (behavioural indicators, physical signs and reflexes) or, under experimental conditions, by recording and subsequent assessment of brain activity as presented in an electroencephalogram (EEG). There is no consensus, however, to what extent different behavioural indicators, physical signs and reflexes accurately reflect unconsciousness. The aim of this thesis was to study the relationships between these readily observable indicators and EEG activity to provide information on 1. the exact point in time at which animals lose consciousness when subjected to different stunning and slaughter methods and 2. the validity of behavioural indicators, physical signs and reflexes used to assess unconsciousness at slaughter under commercial conditions. The results showed a large variation in time to loss of consciousness, based on EEG activity, both between stunning and slaughter procedures and amongst animals. Captive bolt stunned calves lost consciousness instantly following the stun. Loss of consciousness in pigs during CO2 stunning varied from 21 to 61 s after start of the exposure. An increased CO2 concentration decreased the time to loss of consciousness. Times to loss of consciousness in sheep slaughtered without stunning varied from 6 to 24 s. In cattle slaughtered without stunning, times to loss of consciousness varied from 14 s up to over two minutes. Following captive bolt stunning in calves, absence of reflexes indicated unconsciousness. When consciousness was lost gradually (e.g. CO2 stunning and non-stunned slaughter) none of the readily observable indicators could identify the exact point in time at which animals lost consciousness. Absence of rhythmic breathing, corneal reflex- and eyelid reflex were valid indicators of unconsciousness following CO2 stunning and non-stunned slaughter, but these indicators were quite conservative as they were initially absent long after EEG activity indicated unconsciousness. When presence of these indicators would require (re)stunning, many animals will have to be (re)stunned. The results also showed that under full commercial conditions, stunning effectiveness must be closely monitored by slaughter plant employees, since risks for stun failures are higher under commercial conditions compared to experimental conditions.

Effect van verdoven en doden van drachtige dieren op de foetus en vaststellen van de incidentie van doden van (hoog)drachtige dieren in Nederland : welzijn van de foetus bij verdoven en slachten van drachtige dieren
Gerritzen, M.A. ; Dixhoorn, I.D.E. van; Hindle, V.A. ; Reimert, H.G.M. - \ 2016
Wageningen : Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Livestock research rapport ) - 17 p.
dierenwelzijn - dierlijke productie - schapen - rundvee - paarden - diergezondheid - slacht - animal welfare - animal production - sheep - cattle - horses - animal health - slaughter
Literature shows that unborn fetuses during the last third of gestation, are able to experience pain. It is suggested that suppressive factors cause a decreased level of consciousness during pregnancy in the fetus, and that, depending on species, the newborns become conscious after a few hours to several days or weeks after birth. About this reduced level of consciousness during gestation, opinions differ.
During slaughter and bleeding of the dam fetal oxygen level decreases resulting within a minute result in a flattening of the EEG, which is associated with unconsciousness. It is stated that, when using a proper method of killing, no discomfort can be apparent in the unborn fetus. In addition, it is recommended to leave the embryo within the uterus to prevent breathing and thereby prevent an increasing oxygen level as this would make it conscious. The newborn should then be stunned and killed separately.
There is a large variation in the number of slaughtered pregnant animals within the Netherlands. Pregnancy is not always detected and the duration of pregnancy is difficult to estimate. The uteri are left intact according to current recommendations.
On this basis, we conclude that given current knowledge and general opinion, welfare of the fetus is not at stake. New scientific experimental research should reveal the consciousness level of the fetus during slaughter and killing procedures to subscribe the current point of view.
Validation of indicators used to assess unconsciousness in veal calves at slaughter
Verhoeven, M.T.W. ; Gerritzen, M.A. ; Hellebrekers, L.J. ; Kemp, B. - \ 2016
Animal 10 (2016). - ISSN 1751-7311 - p. 1457 - 1465.
(un)consciousness - calves - electroencephalogram - reflexes - slaughter

European legislation states that after stunning regular checks should be performed to guarantee animals are unconscious between the end of the stunning process and death. When animals are killed without prior stunning these checks should be performed before the animal is released from restraint. The validity of certain indicators used to assess unconsciousness under different stunning and slaughter conditions is under debate. The aim of this study was to validate the absence of threat-, withdrawal-, corneal- and eyelid reflex as indicators to assess unconsciousness in calves subjected to different stunning and slaughter methods. Calves (201±22 kg) were randomly assigned to one of the following four treatments: (1) Captive bolt stunning followed by neck cut in an inverted position (n=25); (2) Non-stunned slaughter in an upright position (n=7); (3) Non-stunned slaughter in an inverted position (180° rotation) (n=25); (4) Non-stunned slaughter in an upright position followed by captive bolt stunning 40 s after the neck cut (n=25). Each calf was equipped with non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes before the slaughter procedure. All reflexes were verified once before the slaughter procedure. At the beginning of the procedure (T=0 s) calves were stunned (treatment 1) or neck cut in an upright position (treatment 2, 4) or inverted position (treatment 3). Calves of treatment 4 were captive bolt stunned 34±8 s after the neck cut. Reflexes were assessed every 20 s from T=15 s for all treatments until all reflex tests resulted in a negative response three times in a row and a flat line EEG was observed. In addition, reflexes were assessed 5 s after captive bolt stunning in calves of treatments 1 and 4. Visual assessment of changes in the amplitude and frequency of EEG traces was used to determine loss of consciousness. Timing of loss of consciousness was related to timing of loss of reflexes. After captive bolt stunning, absence of threat-, withdrawal-, corneal- and eyelid reflex indicated unconsciousness as determined by EEG recordings. After non-stunned slaughter, both threat- and withdrawal reflex were on average lost before calves were unconscious based on EEG recordings. The eyelid- and corneal reflex were on average lost after calves had lost consciousness based on EEG recordings and appeared to be distinctly conservative indicators of unconsciousness in non-stunned slaughtered calves since they were observed until 76±50 and 85±45 s (mean±SD), respectively, after EEG-based loss of consciousness.

Efficacy of the Dutch Vision high-low electrical head-only poultry stunner
Gerritzen, M.A. ; Hattum, T.G. van; Reimert, H.G.M. - \ 2015
Wageningen : Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Livestock Research report 442) - 22 p.
animal production - poultry - slaughter - animal welfare - animal health - dierlijke productie - pluimvee - slacht - dierenwelzijn - diergezondheid
The head-only high-low electrical stunner appears to be an effective stunning method for poultry. Well stunned birds remain unconscious for at least 60 seconds and therefore it is recommended that the stun-stick interval should not exceed 30 seconds.
Progress report validation of parameters to determine unconsciousness during slaughter of veal calves
Gerritzen, M.A. ; Verhoeven, H.A. ; Hindle, V.A. - \ 2015
Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Livestock Research rwport 405) - 28 p.
animal welfare - animal production - veal calves - animal health - slaughter - dierenwelzijn - dierlijke productie - vleeskalveren - diergezondheid - slacht
Research concerning slaughter without stunning of ruminants in The Netherlands
Gerritzen, M.A. - \ 2015
Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Livestock Research report 417) - 32 p.
animal welfare - animal production - cattle - goats - sheep - animal health - slaughter - dierenwelzijn - dierlijke productie - rundvee - geiten - schapen - diergezondheid - slacht
Validation of behavioural indicators used to assess unconsciousness in sheep
Verhoeven, M.T.W. ; Gerritzen, M.A. ; Kluivers-Poodt, M. ; Hellebrekers, L.J. ; Kemp, B. - \ 2015
Research in Veterinary Science 101 (2015). - ISSN 0034-5288 - p. 144 - 153.
spectral edge frequency - halothane-anesthetized calves - ventral-neck incision - electroencephalographic responses - bispectral index - broiler-chickens - slaughter - pigs - anesthesia - consciousness
The validity of behavioural indicators to assess unconsciousness under different slaughter conditions is under (inter)national debate. The aim of this study was to validate eyelid-, withdrawal-, threat reflex and rhythmic breathing as indicators to assess unconsciousness in sheep. Sheep were monitored during repeated propofol anaesthesia (n = 12) and during non-stunned slaughter (n = 22). Changes in the EEG and behavioural indices of consciousness/unconsciousness were assessed and compared in sheep. Threat reflex and rhythmic breathing correlated with EEG activity during propofol anaesthesia whilst absence of non-rhythmic breathing or threat reflex indicated unconsciousness. None of the behavioural indicators correlated with EEG activity during non-stunned slaughter. Absence of regular breathing and eyelid reflex was observed 00:27 ± 00:12 min and 00:59 ± 00:17 min (mean ± SD) respectively after animals were considered unconscious, indicating that absence of regular breathing and eyelid reflex are distinctly conservative indicators of unconsciousness during non-stunned slaughter in sheep.
Bedwelmen aan boord
Sikkema, A. ; Vis, J.W. van de; Gerritzen, M.A. - \ 2015
Resource: nieuwssite voor studenten en medewerkers van Wageningen UR 9 (2015)15. - ISSN 1389-7756 - p. 12 - 13.
vissen - bedwelmen - slacht - dierenwelzijn - visserij - kweekvis - visteelt - wild gevangen vis - fishes - stunning - slaughter - animal welfare - fisheries - farmed fish - fish culture - wild caught fish
Wakker Dier voert de laatste weken actie tegen het onverdoofd slachten van vissen. Net als de kippen en varkens moeten de vissen worden verdoofd voor de slacht, vindt de actiegroep. Kan dat? De meeste kweekvis in Nederland wordt al verdoofd aan de slachtlijn, stellen Wageningse onderzoekers, maar de wilde vis uit de Noordzee nog niet. Om ook de schol en haring aan boord van het vissersschip verdoofd te kunnen slachten, is eerst meer onderzoek in het lab en op zee nodig.
Indicators used in livestock to assess unconsciousness after stunning: a review
Verhoeven, M.T.W. ; Gerritzen, M.A. ; Hellebrekers, L.J. ; Kemp, B. - \ 2015
Animal 9 (2015)2. - ISSN 1751-7311 - p. 320 - 330.
somatosensory-evoked-potentials - penetrating captive bolt - spontaneous electroencephalogram - carbon-dioxide - welfare implications - brain-damage - slaughter - sheep - pigs - cattle
Assessing unconsciousness is important to safeguard animal welfare shortly after stunning at the slaughter plant. Indicators that can be visually evaluated are most often used when assessing unconsciousness, as they can be easily applied in slaughter plants. These indicators include reflexes originating from the brain stem (e.g. eye reflexes) or from the spinal cord (e.g. pedal reflex) and behavioural indicators such as loss of posture, vocalisations and rhythmic breathing. When physically stunning an animal, for example, captive bolt, most important indicators looked at are posture, righting reflex, rhythmic breathing and the corneal or palpebral reflex that should all be absent if the animal is unconscious. Spinal reflexes are difficult as a measure of unconsciousness with this type of stunning, as they may occur more vigorous. For stunning methods that do not physically destroy the brain, for example, electrical and gas stunning, most important indicators looked at are posture, righting reflex, natural blinking response, rhythmic breathing, vocalisations and focused eye movement that should all be absent if the animal is unconscious. Brain stem reflexes such as the cornea reflex are difficult as measures of unconsciousness in electrically stunned animals, as they may reflect residual brain stem activity and not necessarily consciousness. Under commercial conditions, none of the indicators mentioned above should be used as a single indicator to determine unconsciousness after stunning. Multiple indicators should be used to determine unconsciousness and sufficient time should be left for the animal to die following exsanguination before starting invasive dressing procedures such as scalding or skinning. The recording and subsequent assessment of brain activity, as presented in an electroencephalogram (EEG), is considered the most objective way to assess unconsciousness compared with reflexes and behavioural indicators, but is only applied in experimental set-ups. Studies performed in an experimental set-up have often looked at either the EEG or reflexes and behavioural indicators and there is a scarcity of studies that correlate these different readout parameters. It is recommended to study these correlations in more detail to investigate the validity of reflexes and behavioural indicators and to accurately determine the point in time at which the animal loses consciousness.
Emotions on the loose: emotional contagion and the role of oxytocin in pigs
Reimert, I. ; Bolhuis, J.E. ; Kemp, B. ; Rodenburg, T.B. - \ 2015
Animal Cognition 18 (2015)2. - ISSN 1435-9448 - p. 517 - 532.
social cognition - sus-scrofa - behavior - animals - empathy - humans - responses - welfare - slaughter - distress
We studied emotional contagion, a simple form of empathy, and the role of oxytocin herein in pigs. Two training pigs per pen (n = 16 pens) were subjected to a positive treatment (pairwise access to a large compartment filled with peat, straw and some chocolate raisins) and a negative treatment (social isolation in a small compartment) in a test room using a within-subjects design. Thereafter, two naive pen mates joined the training pigs in the test room, but were not given access to the treatments. This allowed testing for emotional contagion. Subsequently, the naive pigs, serving as their own controls, were given 24 IU of oxytocin or a placebo intranasally 30 min before accompanying the training pigs, which were exposed to either the negative or positive treatment, to the test room. Behavioral differences found between the positive and negative treatments (e.g., play and “tail wagging” vs. standing alert, urinating, defecating and ears backward) show that the treatments induced a positive and negative emotional state in the training pigs, respectively. Changes in behaviors of the training pigs with and without naive pigs present (e.g., in ears backwards) and of the naive pigs with and without training pigs present (e.g., in standing alert) indicated that emotional contagion occurred, especially during the negative treatment. Oxytocin did not seem to affect the behavior of the treated naive pigs, but did affect behaviors (e.g., defecating) of the training pigs which had not received oxytocin. This suggests a role for oxytocin in pig communication, which merits further research.
Progress report validation of parameters to examine unconsciousness; Validation of parameters used to assess consciousness in sheep at slaughter
Gerritzen, M.A. ; Verhoeven, M.T.W. ; Kluivers-Poodt, M. ; Reimert, H.G.M. ; Anjema, D. - \ 2014
Lelystad : Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Report / Wageningen UR Livestock Research 380)
dierenwelzijn - dierlijke productie - schapen - diergezondheid - slacht - animal welfare - animal production - sheep - animal health - slaughter
Progress report restraining ruminants : Upright versus inverted restraining
Gerritzen, M.A. ; Reimert, H.G.M. ; Werf, J.T.N. van der; Hindle, V.A. ; Visser, E.K. ; Dixhoorn, I.D.E. van - \ 2014
Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Livestock Research report 379) - 42 p.
animal welfare - animal production - cattle - dairy cattle - animal health - slaughter - dierenwelzijn - dierlijke productie - rundvee - melkvee - diergezondheid - slacht
Vaststellen nul-situatie onverdoofd slachten van runderen en kleine herkauwers in Nederland in 2014
Gerritzen, M.A. ; Verkaik, J.C. ; Reimert, H.G.M. ; Hindle, V.A. - \ 2014
Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Livestock Research rapport 395) - 25 p.
dierenwelzijn - dierlijke productie - rundvee - geiten - schapen - diergezondheid - slacht - animal welfare - animal production - cattle - goats - sheep - animal health - slaughter
Analysis of animal welfare risks from unloading until slaughter: red meat livestock species
Visser, E.K. ; Ouweltjes, W. ; Spoolder, H.A.M. - \ 2014
Wageningen : WUR Livestock Research - 48
animal welfare - animal production - dairy cattle - beef cattle - pigs - sheep - horses - animal health - transport - slaughter - dierenwelzijn - dierlijke productie - melkvee - vleesvee - varkens - schapen - paarden - diergezondheid - slacht
Eindrapport Animal Welfare Check Points 2014
Visser, K.J. ; Vermeer, H.M. ; Ouweltjes, W. ; Kluivers-Poodt, M. ; Gerritzen, M.A. - \ 2014
Wageningen : Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Rapport / Wageningen UR Livestock Research 826) - 33
dierenwelzijn - varkenshouderij - slachtdieren - ketenmanagement - slacht - varkens - animal welfare - pig farming - meat animals - supply chain management - slaughter - pigs
Dit rapport betreft het laatste rapport van het project Animal Welfare Check Points (2012-2014) waarin vanuit de wetenschap en in de praktijk is gekeken naar het proces van laden, transporteren, lossen en verdoven van slachtdieren in Nederland.
Jaarrapportage onderzoek Animal Welfare Check Points 2013
Visser, E.K. ; Ouweltjes, W. ; Neijenhuis, F. ; Lourens, A. ; Werf, J.T.N. van der; Gunnink, H. ; Hindle, V.A. ; Verkaik, J.C. ; Binnendijk, G.P. ; Gerritzen, M.A. - \ 2014
Wageningen : Wageningen UR Livestock Research (Report / Wageningen UR Livestock Research 753) - 89
dierenwelzijn - transport - slacht - varkens - vleeskuikens - hennen - rundvee - schapen - geiten - diergezondheid - doden van dieren - dierlijke productie - protocollen - veevervoer - animal welfare - slaughter - pigs - broilers - hens - cattle - sheep - goats - animal health - killing of animals - animal production - protocols - transport of animals
Het project “Animal Welfare Check Points” heeft als doel het ontwikkelen van protocollen voor het beoordelen van het welzijn van slachtdieren tijdens het selecteren en voorbereiden op het primaire bedrijf, tijdens transport en op de slachterij. In de tweede fase van het onderzoek (2013) zijn gegevens verzameld om een idee te krijgen van de gemiddelden en spreiding van de welzijnsparameters in de praktijk. Daarnaast zijn ervaringen opgedaan met de toepassing van de protocollen in de praktijk, en waar nodig zijn protocollen verder aangescherpt.
Slaughterhouse Inspection (Egypt). Training Manual : Guidelines for the Planning and Organisation of Training Activities
Blomne Sopov, M. ; Ghouti, C.A. ; Benlafquih, R. ; Vugt, F. van; Latief, A.M.A. - \ 2014
Wageningen : Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen UR - 53
dierenwelzijn - diergezondheid - slacht - dierlijke productie - opleiding - egypte - slachthuizen - inspectie - animal welfare - animal health - slaughter - animal production - training - egypt - abattoirs - inspection
The training manual was prepared for the inspectors of slaughterhouses in Egypt to support the training activities of the General Organization for Veterinary Services (GOVS). The manual has two main parts: 1. Overview on how to design, organize, implement and evaluate training programs in general 2. Recommendation on how to design and facilitate training programs for the inspectors of slaughterhouses. Report CDI-14-004.
Schadevrij op slachterij
Niekerk, T.G.C.M. van; Reuvekamp, B.F.J. ; Gunnink, H. - \ 2014
De Pluimveehouderij 44 (2014)4. - ISSN 0166-8250 - p. 28 - 30.
pluimveehouderij - hennen - dierenwelzijn - slacht - transport - vangen van dieren - beschadigingen - poultry farming - hens - animal welfare - slaughter - capture of animals - injuries
Een juist management op het legbedrijf kan dierschade bij vangen en vervoer van uitgelegde hennen tegen gaan, zo blijkt uit onderzoek in de winterperiode.
Cone restraining and head-only electrical stunning in broilers: Effects on physiological responses and meat quality
Lambooij, E. ; Reimert, H.G.M. ; Verhoeven, M.T.W. ; Hindle, V.A. - \ 2014
Poultry Science 93 (2014)3. - ISSN 0032-5791 - p. 512 - 518.
water-bath - slaughter - transport - poultry - feasibility - parameters - mortality - chickens - bruises - stress
Two experiments were conducted to evaluate a new electrical stunning system for broilers. The objective of the first experiment was to evaluate the behavioral, neural, and physiological responses of 27 broilers after head-only electrical stunning while their bodies were restrained in cone-shaped holders. In the second experiment, quality of meat from 30 broilers after headonly electrical stunning in a cone-shaped restrainer was compared with that from 30 broilers stunned in a conventional water bath. Broilers were restrained in the cone with their heads positioned to facilitate a correct stun, followed by a neck cut by hand. After stunning, each broiler displayed a tonic phase, followed by minimal brain activity during bleeding. On average, heart rate was 258 ± 51 beats/min before stunning. The heart was observed to malfunction after cutting. According to the correlation dimension analyses, the score remained low. Within a confidence limit of 95%, taking into account the number of birds with a reliable electroencephalogram (n = 27), the chance of an effective stun and exsanguination with all broilers lies between 0.90 and 1.00 using a sinusoidal AC current of 264 ± 29 mA (~130 V). After a brief learning period, operators were able to easily position the broilers in the cone in a commercial setting. The pH after chilling was 0.5 units lower (P <0.05) in the head-only stunned group compared with the group stunned in a conventional water bath. After head-only stunning, 60% of breast fillets showed no blood splashes and 3% showed severe blood splashes compared with 20 and 27% after conventional water bath stunning. No differences in temperature and color were observed between the 2 groups. It is concluded that broilers could be restrained in a cone, followed by correct head-only stunning, neck-cutting, and unconscious shackling afterward under laboratory and commercial slaughterhouse conditions. When this procedure was used, meat quality was better compared with broilers stunned in the conventional water bath.
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