Electric bath stunning is a method of stunning birds prior to slaughter by flowing electricity through their brains. The process is one of the most common stunning methods used in commercial slaughterhouses for two reasons: beyond creating richer, higher-quality meat, electric pre-slaughter stunning is a humane practice that ensures the birds feel no pain.

However, without the proper procedures in place, electric bath stunning can cause problems of its own. In particular, improper stunning can result in inferior quality meat, meaning that more birds will have to be slaughtered to make up the difference in meat fit for consumption.

If you use electric bath sunning at your plant, it’s worth knowing the best practices to use to achieve the best results and some common mistakes to avoid. If you want to obtain higher quality meat and condemn fewer birds, here are some factors to consider:


No matter the animal, stress level prior to slaughter is one of the most important factors that affects overall meat quality. Slaughtering stressed or agitated animals results in tough, chewy meat that can leave customers disappointed.

Unfortunately for poultry manufacturers, the primary source of meat from a bird is also the one at the highest risk. Birds’ breasts hold a high concentration of nerve endings, so stress can easily ruin a large portion of the usable meat. For this reason, it’s vital to keep your birds as calm and comfortable as possible prior to stunning.


For many managers, the solution is a breast comforter (also known as a rub bar): affixed on the production line prior to the electric stunning bath, the breast comforter applies physical contact to the bird’s breast to relax them and encourage neck extension, which in turn results in more effective stunning. Note however that metal comforters should be avoided, as wing contact with metal comforters can cause hematomas.

Contact Area Wetness

Water or humidity on the contact area can result in a pre-shock, causing them to instinctively lift their necks and wings. If this occurs, it can cause the bird to remain conscious during the stunning process, and if it is not unloaded from its shackles, it will suffer a painful death either from bleeding out or from drowning in the scalder.

In order to ensure both better meat quality and a painless, humane death for the bird, make sure the contact area is kept dry to avoid pre-shock.


Like all animals, birds instinctively respond to the light levels of their environment, becoming more agitated in well-lit areas and more relaxed in dimly-lit areas.

To keep your birds calm, keep the receiving area at a reduced light level. Also consider switching from white to blue lights, which can enhance the effect. In the best situation, low lighting can even cause birds to fall asleep, putting them in as relaxed a state possible.

Conveyor Gaps

The stunning bath carries exactly enough charge to stun every bird on the overhead conveyor, so if there are unfilled shackles, the birds that enter the bath will receive a higher electrical shock than planned. This can result in bodily damage, improper stunning, or even electrocution, all of which are both inhumane and result in poorer-quality meat.

From an efficiency standpoint, leaving gaps in the line also means having to keep machinery running longer to process the same amount of birds, so filling every shackle is always a good idea.

Hanger Time

One essential component of effective stunning is keeping the process moving quickly. After all, the shorter the time it takes for each bird to get from the last hanger to the stunner, the less time it will have to become agitated prior to stunning.

For the best results, keep the timing from hanger to stunner below 20 seconds.

Monitoring And Analysis

In many ways, proper stunning is a balancing act: set the current too high, and the birds can get damaged or even electrocuted; set the current too low, and the birds may not be fully stunned. Pay close attention to the current levels in the stunner to ensure the best, most humane process.

In addition, should accidents happen, proper monitoring and analysis can help managers identify the problem and fix it as quickly as possible. Careful monitoring can help managers comply with industry standards and increase overall yield simultaneously.

Employee Knowledge

Just like every other aspect of your plant, the best results always rely on proper employee education and training.Thoroughly train all employees on the correct ways to hang each bird on the shackle, as well as the proper measurements for water size, depth, height, and voltage current.

The more employees are familiar with the best processes for stunning, and the more knowledgeable they are, the better chance that accidents can be identified and prevented before they happen, saving you time, money, and a lot of hassle.
If you’re interested in learning more about the best and most effective equipment for your poultry plant, and how to make the most of it, download our free Ebook, How to Find Efficient Poultry Processing Equipment, and start getting more out of your poultry plant.

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