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Welfare indicators for stunning versus non‐stunning slaughter in sheep and cattle: A scoping review

Tetlow, Sky A. J.; Brennan, Marnie L.; Garcia‐Ara, Amelia


Sky A. J. Tetlow


Background: While most cattle and sheep in the United Kingdom are stunned before slaughter, non-stun methods are permitted to supply meat to specific consumers. This study aimed to identify the existing literature that compared animal welfare indicators during stun and non-stun slaughter, using a scoping review framework. Method: Following a structured search strategy, including the establishment of a PICO (population, intervention, comparator and outcomes) question, a comprehensive literature search of the CAB Abstracts, MEDLINE and PubMed databases, was conducted. A total of 962 papers were identified, of which 16 were selected for data extraction. Results: Fourteen papers concluded that welfare at slaughter was negatively impacted at non-stun slaughter in comparison to stun slaughter; two papers were inconclusive. Welfare indicators identified included biochemical parameters, brain activity and visual signs of consciousness. Limitations regarding inconsistent restraint method, neck cut position and non-standardised measures of welfare at slaughter are highlighted. Conclusions: This study provides further evidence that stunning is an effective method to improve the welfare of sheep and cattle at slaughter. Animal welfare advisors, politicians, religious communities and others interested in animal welfare could use the findings to further discuss and establish new dialogues for producing updated guidance on animal welfare at slaughter.


Tetlow, S. A. J., Brennan, M. L., & Garcia‐Ara, A. (2022). Welfare indicators for stunning versus non‐stunning slaughter in sheep and cattle: A scoping review. Veterinary Record, 191(6), Article e1739.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Apr 26, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 2, 2022
Publication Date Sep 23, 2022
Deposit Date Nov 25, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 25, 2022
Journal Veterinary Record
Print ISSN 0042-4900
Electronic ISSN 2042-7670
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 191
Issue 6
Article Number e1739
Keywords General Veterinary; General Medicine
Public URL
Publisher URL


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