Stunning animals in slaughterhouses: which machinery to use on each line?

Pig, beef and sheep lines require different types of machinery to carry out the stunning phase in slaughterhouses.

In previous posts we talked about the importance of animal welfare and compliance with European regulations regarding the handling and preparation of animals upon arrival at the slaughterhouse. Today we emphasize the stunning phase, the performance of a correct procedure and the machinery that must be used during the process, depending on each line or animal.

Stunning consists of immobilization and, forgive the redundancy, stunning of the animal. In this process, two goals must be met: avoiding the suffering of the animal and complying with the regulations, and ensuring that the meat that will be processed does not show alterations caused by any situation of tension or stress suffered by the animal.

That is why in the stunning phase, it is important to maintain these goals, even when the productions are long and massive. It is also key to know the type of machinery you want to have, according to the needs of each production line or number of animals per hour. On the other hand, it is also recommended that the animals taken to the stunning point be taken in a group. All these factors influence to establish the type of machinery that is going to be used.

Pork stunning in slaughterhouses


About the pork line, depending on the equipment used, the conduction can be carried out by groups. There are three types of stunning systems for porks and their use depend on the volume of production and extension of the facilities.


This system facilitates immobilization and the stunning operation by the electronarcosis. It is indicated for low productions, not being the most appropriate equipment for high productions. However, its low cost makes it an essential system for slaughterhouses with small productions, and it can also be manufactured in different sizes, adapting to the size of the animal. This box requires a bleeding table to avoid the appearance of petechiae, broken backbones or broken hams.


The restrainer is another perfect immobilization and dosing instrument within this line, which also permits stunning by electronarcosis. The restrainer allows more comfortable and efficient work for the operators, and in the same machine it is possible to work small animals and large animals, such as mothers. It allows to accumulate three animals inside the machine, which can be showered while being driven, thus reducing the stress of the animal. It also facilitates the lifting of the pigs for their subsequent unloading on the horizontal bleeding table. It is also an economic product, with a higher production capacity than the box. On the other hand, like the previous machinery, it also requires a bleeding table, and in this case, it is convenient it to be a dynamic table to maintain a profitable production.


This is the best stunning system available. Regarding animal welfare, this system allows the stunned to be done in a group, reducing the stress of the animal to the maximum. Due to this, petechiae or backbone breaks do not occur, carring out a proper bleeding and achieving good level on the PSE index.

Cattle stunning in slaughterhouse


For the cattle line, it is regular the use of robust machinery according the volume of the animal, and there has being included several advances for a while to make the stunning a faster and more efficient process, aiding to increase the volume of the production while reducing the animal suffering.


The traditional stunning box is the most used equipment, which has been developed, including more improvements, such as the rear push system, which makes the animal to take the head out at the front. On the other hand, the guillotine door completely immobilises the head, allowing a quick stunning according to the regulations.


The ritual box manufactured by Mecanova incorporates elements that reduce the petechiae or red spots, as it holds the animal completely without opressing it. Other stunning boxes can bruise the carcass because of the excesive preassure, which dificults the breathing and increases the animal suffering. That is why, the Mecanova boxes are manually controled and individual.

Sheep stunning in slaughterhouses


Sheeps can also be stunned by groups, with equipment similar to the pork line.


The restrainer is the best sheep stunning system in the current installations. Due to its design, it perfectly fulfills the conduction, with an easy stunning. In some cases they can also be used for ritual sacrifice, as after a stunning by electronarcosis in a first restrainer, the bleeding can be performed with a second equipment. The restrainer can incorporate – and it is recommended – a blood collection system and self cleaning bands to avoid blood in the carcasses.