Assessments of proper handling, stunning and bleeding at slaughter

  • Subject
    Welfare during slaughter and killing, indicators
  • Target audience
    official inspectors
More info and sources
In three factsheets, EURCAW-Pigs describes animal-based indicators to assess calm handling, and proper and effective stunning and bleeding at slaughter. Each factsheet combines several indicators. The factsheets are also available in French, German, Spanish and Dutch.

Animal-based indicators should be used in addition to the resource and management-based parameters required by law (Regulation 1099/2009) like electrical settings in case of electrical stunning, (records of) gas concentrations in case of CO2 stunning and the stun-to-stick interval.

The factsheets elaborate on the “Review of pig welfare in slaughterhouses at stunning and bleeding”. In the factsheets many QR codes are included to see video examples of classification into high or low risks for pig welfare.


High levels of fear and distress when handled and moved to the stunning area can be assessed or scored by frequency of high pitch vocalisations, turning back or reluctance to move, and slipping and falling.

Electrical stunning efficiency

Animal-based indicators for measuring the effectiveness of stunning and bleeding should be tested with caution. To test electrical stunning efficiency, pigs are preferably assessed immediately after ejection, after ca. 40 sec., and during bleeding / before further slaughtering. First observations after the ejection from the stunning box include a visual check of the presence of a tonic state, absence of directed movements, vocalisations, regular breathing or a spontaneous blinking. About 40 seconds after the end of the current flow through the head additional reflex tests such as the palpebral or corneal reflex tests and the pain reflex test can be performed.

    Efficiency of CO2 stunning

    Efficiency of CO2 stunning is monitored immediately after ejection, after sticking, and during bleeding / before further slaughtering. Signs of return of consciousness are recovery of breathing (incl. gasping), positive corneal reflexes, or spontaneous blinking of the eye lids. Signs of consciousness are a righting reflex, regular breathing, reproducible reactions to pain stimuli, corneal or palpebral reflex tests, and vocalisations.

    Translations into four languages

    Currently, all factsheets are available in English. To facilitate the diffusion of information from the EU level to the Member States level, EURCAW-Pigs started translating factsheets into different languages. The first translations are into German, Spanish, French and Dutch. The three factsheets described here are now available in these languages:

    Français | Deutsch | Español | Nederlands

    Translations into more languages will follow in the work programme 2023-2024.

    Introphoto: moving pigs to stunner (©EURCAW-Pigs)