RSPCA welfare standards
for domestic/common ducks
54 February 2015
* indicates an amendment
S 6.7 All stunning and bleeding equipment must be properly and regularly maintained, cleaned and checked
daily to ensure that it is in full and proper working order.
S 6.8 An independent, qualified person must inspect the stunning equipment to test its efficacy.
S 6.9 Any problems must be reported to the PWO and rectified immediately.
S 6.10 Contingency plans must be made to deal with occasions when unavoidable delays may occur and it is not
possible to process birds.
S 6.11 If the killing line is stopped for longer than one minute, birds between the point of shackling and the killer
must be humanely killed immediately.
S 6.12 There must be sufficient time after stunning and prior to neck cutting to assess the effectiveness of the kill.
S 6.13 * All birds must be checked to ensure they have been effectively stunned and killed.
S 6.14 Birds which fail to be properly stunned must be immediately stunned using a permitted method as in
accordance with S 6.1, and humanely killed before entering the scalding tank.
S 6.15 Staff must be trained to recognise the signs of an effective stun, and use these signs to recognise that
birds have been effectively stunned or are dead.
The most reliable indicator that a bird is properly stunned by the low voltage method is the
electroplectic fit. The characteristics of this condition are:
1. no rhythmic breathing
2. neck arched with head directed vertically
3. open eyes
4. absence of a third eyelid (nictitating membrane) reflexa
5. wings held close to the body
6. rigidly extended legs and constant rapid body tremors.
The physical conditions of the electroplectic fit are shorter lasting and less pronounced when
cardiac arrest is induced at stunning. They are followed by:
- completely limp carcass
- no breathing
- loss of nictitating membrane reflexa
- dilated pupil.
aUnconsciousness can be checked by the absence of a blink reflex when the cornea (the
surface of the eyeball) is lightly touched. Presence of a blink reflex must be acted upon
immediately: it does not necessarily indicate full consciousness but the return of this reflex
after stunning is a sign of some brain function returning and indicates the possibility that the
bird is regaining consciousness.