The stunning, slaughter and killing of animals are increasingly becoming the focus of societal interest. Comprehensive legal regulations on this are made in Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009 as well as in the national Animal Welfare Slaughter Regulation. Accordingly, animals need to be restrained, anaesthetised, slaughtered or killed in such a way that no more than unavoidable excitement, pain, stress, suffering or harm is caused to them. Perceptibility from adverse stimuli should be immediate and safely disabled for animals and should be maintained until death occurs, e.g. as a result of blood deprivation at slaughter. If the stunning effect does not appear immediately when a stunning method is used, the respecitive phase in which the animal loses their sensory perception and sensibility should be designed as stress-free or as low-stress as possible. A wide variety of methods, e.g. electric or gas stunning, are therefore being investigated.
In addition to stunning and killing for food production, suitable methods for use in case of diseases are also to be evaluated, which allow humane stunning and killing of an animal population to protect human and animal health, for example in the event of an outbreak of African swine fever or highly pathogenic avian influenza.
The scientific aim of the department is therefore the development, improvement and optimisation of stunning and killing procedures for farm animals under consideration of animal welfare. Physiological and ethological parameters are collected in the studies and examined with regard to their significance for the animal-friendliness of the method used. Technical parameters are included and evaluated in conjunction with the animal-based indicators as possible key parameters in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009.