RSPCA welfare standards
for domestic/common ducks
53 February 2015
* indicates an amendment
Where electrical water stunning baths are used:
a) the stunning bath must be set at a height appropriate for the size and number of birds
b) the height must be set to ensure the heads of the birds are fully immersed in the water
c) there must be a voltage sufficient to produce a minimum current of 130mA (0.130A) per bird
d) a sinusoidal (AC) waveform must be used (stunning using a DC waveform is prohibited)
e) they must operate at a frequency of 50Hz
f) each bird must be in contact with the electrical current for a minimum of 4 seconds
g) the water bath must be of sufficient size and depth and the water must not overflow at the entrance
h) the electrode, which is immersed in the water, must extend the length of the water bath
i) birds must not receive pre-stun shocks
j) the water bath must be fitted with an ammeter to accurately monitor current flow through the bath
when loaded with birds.
50Hz sine wave (AC) is the optimum frequency and waveform for inducing cardiac arrest. The
heart muscle is particularly sensitive to this frequency and when sufficient current is applied to
the heart it ceases to beat normally and pump blood around the body. Therefore, an effective
stun-to-kill can be achieved when using this frequency, which is the most preferred outcome to
achieve good welfare during killing.
A steeply inclined flat ramp bolted on to the entrance of the waterbath can be effective in
avoiding pre-stun shocks. The ramp should extend over the water so the birds get drawn up
the ramp by the shackle line and then swing down into the water in one smooth movement.
This results in the bird's head entering the water first and the bird is stunned immediately.
Care must be taken to ensure birds do not receive pre-stun shocks from the ramp itself. This
may occur if the ramp is electrically live because of water flowing from the bath onto the ramp
or if it is not isolated from the rest of the stunner.
Source: Humane Slaughter Association (HSA). 2006. HSA Technical Note 16: Prevention of
Pre-Stun Shocks in Electrical Waterbaths. HSA, Wheathampstead, Herts., UK (www.hsa.org.uk).
S 6.5 The shackle - at the point where it meets the duck's foot - must be wet prior to the bird entering the
Ideally, the wetting of the shackle should be before the bird is hung.
S 6.6 Where electrical hand-held stunners are used:
a) ducks must be restrained in a cone or on a shackle
b) birds must be stunned without delay after being restrained
c) care must be taken to ensure that the stunning electrodes are applied in the optimum position,
i.e. applied firmly to either side of the head between the eye and ear
d) hand-held stunners must deliver 400mA for at least 10 seconds and until initial wing flapping ceases
(or if held in a cone, until legs become rigid and extended)
e) neck cutting must be carried out immediately (see S 7.1).