Reactions of Cattle to Head-Restraint at Stunning: A Practical Dilemma
The behavioural reactions and blood cortisol levels of cattle stunned using a penetrating captive-bolt pistol whilst standing free in a stunning box were compared with those obtained from cattle similarly stunned but with their heads held in a hydraulically operated chin-lift type of
head restrainer. Few (8 out of 55) animals voluntarily put their heads into the restrainer. most had to be 'persuaded' to use the head-restrainer; some (5 out of 24) could not be. The mean time between entry into the stunning pen and the stun for 23 free standing animals was 5.6s and for 19
animals which could be persuaded to use the head restrainer was 34.2s. The cortisol levels in the blood taken at the stick, from 30 animals stunned while standing free was 67.6 nmoillitre while that from 30 stunned while head-restrained was 143.1 nmolllitre. The behaviour and cortisol results
suggest that enforced usage of this type of head restrainer could be a cause of distress to the cattle involved.