Egg Industry News and Commentary

  —  Apr 12

Head-Only Stunner Developed in the Netherlands


Dutch Vision Solutions (DVS) has developed a head-only broiler stunner recently promoted in the form of an “infomercial” in an EU poultry periodical.  The purpose of the development program was to engineer a system which would allow recovery of stunned broilers within 30 seconds, apparently a requirement for some certifiers of halal slaughter and important for some export markets. 

The equipment developed by DVS was tested by a Wageningen University research team at a throughput of 13,500 birds per hour.  Stunning efficiency attained 95 percent with approximately 5 percent birds of birds showing a sensate reaction within 30 seconds after stunning.


A comparison shows that the capital cost of a head-only installation is approximately eight times the cost of a water-bath unit and according to the figures presented, enigmatically even more that a controlled atmosphere stunning installation.

The head-only stunner does not appear to have advantages over pulsed-DC stunning as installed in some plants in the U.S. or over the more conventional water-bath AC stunners.

Given the growing demand for controlled-atmosphere stunning as a welfare imperative, it is doubtful whether the system will be adopted in the U.S.  In any event, the head-only system still requires manual shackling which is considered a negative by advocates of bird welfare and the customers they advise. It is considered unacceptable that the head-only stunning system as tested, would allow five percent of broilers to pass conscious through the rotary blade or manual slaughterer.

The cost comparison presented in the form of a table in the article published in the EU periodical clearly overstates the cost of controlled atmosphere stunning especially with respect to labor, water usage and electricity. The comparison ignored fixed costs including depreciation and interest.