|The Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act of 1978 [7 USC 1901 - 1906] states that the handling and slaughtering of livestock are to be carried out only by humane methods. The Federal Meat Inspection Act [21 USC 601 et seq.] authorizes Federal Meat Inspectors to inspect, verify compliance, and enforce humane methods of handling and slaughtering of livestock so as to prevent needless suffering of animals. FSIS personnel verify that an establishment is meeting these requirements by performing procedure 04C02 daily and recording the results on the procedure schedule for each inspection shift. They also should record the time spent verifying human handling and slaughter activities in the Humane-handling Activities Tracking System (HATS).
The following references should be used when studying this HIKE:
You are the IIC of a federal beef slaughter and processing establishment. You are verifying humane stunning operations. The establishment utilizes a blank charge captive bolt gun to stun the animals. You stand in an obscure location after stunning where the plant employees can not see you and evaluate for unconsciousness. You observe the animals for signs of unconsciousness including absence of a righting reflex, head hanging straight down, eyes wide open with a blank stare, no eye blinking, and absence of rhythmic breathing. You determine that all animals exhibit signs consistent with unconsciousness; so you are confident that the establishment is obtaining immediate unconsciousness as required by Regulation 313.15(a).
You then observe cattle being stunned. In one case two shots are required because after the first, the animal goes down and blinks its eyes twice but shows no other signs of returning to consciousness. The operator observes the blinking and applies a second shot as soon as possible after the first. Later in the same group of animals, the operator applies two knocks to another animal, but in this case, even though the animal is rendered unconscious with the first knock, the operator is unsure and applies a second security knock as a precaution.
You decide as a final part of this procedure you will talk to maintenance regarding the stunning equipment. They verify that the captive bolt equipment is cleaned and maintenance is done each shift.
As the IIC you determine that the plant is stunning animals in a manner consistent with 9 CFR 313.15 (a) (1). They are rendering the animals unconscious with a minimum of excitement and discomfort. All animals were unconscious following stunning. The plant appears to take the maintenance of their stunning equipment seriously which is important in a systematic approach to humane handling.
While there was not a noncompliance with double knocks because immediate corrective action was taken to re-stun the one animal to render it unconscious, you determine humane handling would be a good topic of discussion for the next weekly meeting with plant management. You will let them know that you did observe minimal double knocking during your verification. When required, corrective actions were taken immediately to render the animals unconscious with a minimum of excitement and discomfort, and before they were shackled, hoisted thrown, cast, or cut in compliance with regulation. You will remind them that double knocks may be occasionally needed and they should be administered immediately and effectively. They should also ensure that all personnel responsible for stunning have the same knowledge as the individual you observed so that there continue to be no issues in the future.
At the meeting you discuss the difference between a routine double knock as described in HIKE Scenario 01-08, a double knock and a security knock. You explain that a double knock is performed when the first does not render the animal completely unconscious and signs like eye blinking may be observed. A security knock is performed when, even though the animal is not showing any signs of being conscious, the operator is unsure the first will maintain unconscious throughout the bleeding process. You remind them of their responsibility for the oversight of the stunning process and that it will need to be carefully monitored and audited to maintain a high standard of animal welfare.
You indicate that the plant should continue with the maintenance and cleaning of equipment as well ensuring proper placement of equipment when stunning these cattle. The plant should also continue to train employees to be aware of differences in sizes of cattle similar to the stun gun operator that was observed during the verification activity performed today.
At the meeting you ask if they have any questions regarding animal welfare or humane handling requirements. You address their concerns.
- 9 CFR 313.15(a) Application of stunners, required effect; and handling. (1) The captive bolt stunners shall be applied to livestock in accordance with this section so as to produce immediate unconsciousness in animals before they are shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast, or cut. The animal will be stunned in such a manner that they will be rendered unconscious with a minimum of excitement and discomfort.
- Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act of 1978