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In Australia approximately 32 million sheep and 8 million cattle are killed in abattoirs each year for human consumption (both domestic and export). The slaughter of livestock involves three distinct stages: preslaughter handling, stunning, and slaughtering. Emergency killing of poultry are often methods that are simple and quick to use. Some signs are useful indicators of both consciousness and unconsciousness, for example: Rhythmic breathing is a useful sign of unconsciousness when absent after electrical and mechanical stunning methods and a useful sign of consciousness or return to consciousness when present, assessing consciousness/sensibility in poultry can present with challenges because of the high line speeds used in most federal poultry slaughter establishments, for practical purposes, groups of birds are assessed for uniformity of signs of consciousness or unconsciousness to gain an idea of whether stunning is effective, effectiveness of stunning is evaluated on an outcome basis (no signs of return to sensibility), however the signs of return to consciousness are progressive so it is important not to wait before implementing deviation procedures when observing any of these signs of consciousness during the monitoring procedures on an ongoing basis, the signs of consciousness/sensibility or unconsciousness/ insensibility vary with the species and the method of stunning used, the licence holder should include as part of the animal welfare PCP for poultry, effective measures for ensuring all birds are effectively stunned and no conscious birds enters the scald tank alive as the key outcome to prevent avoidable suffering to the individual bird, This includes the monitoring for signs that no birds are returning to sensibility at any point prior to entering the scald tank, including during the bleed-out step, monitoring at more than one point on the line is ideal and should include right after the stunning procedure and at some point during the bleed out process prior to the birds entering the scalding tank, a functioning reticular formation is required for the standing posture and is affected by all forms of stunning, Collapse occurs immediately after effective mechanical and electrical stunning, However, collapse can also be caused if the mechanical penetrative or electrical device is improperly place on the neck, bypassing the brain and resulting in immobilization or paralysis without unconsciousness, Gas stunning results in the gradual loss of the ability to stand, blinking is generated by an eye preservation reflex, absence of blinking indicates the required cranial nerves have lost sensory and motor function, involves circuits in the brainstem and cortex, monitoring for spontaneous blinking is a useful indicator of consciousness, spontaneous blinking must be absent after effective stunning, repeated spontaneous blinking can be a sign of consciousness, especially if occurring together with eye movements, focused on external stimuli, the nerves innervating the eyeball and pupil are non-functional, indicative that brain activity is impaired, a wide open, relaxed eye with a blank stare can be taken as a good indicator of unconsciousness, wide open, relaxed eyes and pupil can indicate a dead animal, corneal reflex and palpebral reflex have similar neural circuits but palpebral disappears first, absence indicates a loss of brain stem function and thus loss of sensibility, do not use corneal reflex to evaluate efficacy of electric stunning because of tonic seizure activity which may affect eyeball muscles, can be taken as a sign that the brain is reorganizing after stunning, absence of corneal reflex is a reliable indicator of unconsciousness, vertical or horizontal rapid oscillation of the eyeball or 'vibrating eye', presence of nystagmus suggests dysfunction in the underlying circuits of the brain or damage to the cerebellum of vestibular system, the implication of nystagmus depends on the stunning method used, nystagmus is often seen during seizure caused by effective electrical stunning in all species, especially at higher frequencies, if nystagmus occurs after captive bolt stunning this is generally associated with an ineffective stun and requires a restun, if intentional eye movements are present, the animal is conscious, involves higher-order cortical activity in perception and integration of information from the environment, hand or finger movement towards the eyes and a blinking or withdrawal reaction indicates animal is conscious, eyeball movement depends on muscles that receive information from brainstem, which is controlled by higher brain centres, full or partial eyeball rotation after mechanical stunning in cattle indicates a risk of return to consciousness and requires a second stun, intermittent forceful and disorganized inspiratory movements, rhythmic breathing is coordinated by the brainstem (medulla oblongata) and through information received from the periphery and higher brain centres, agonal gasping can be induced by ischemia or hypoxia and precedes death, absence of rhythmic breathing is consistent with unconsciousness or death, presence of breathing is a sign of return to sensibility after all methods of stunning, check the flank, nostril and mouth for signs of rhythmic breathing, gasping may be observed after effective electrical or gas stunning but should not occur after effective mechanical stunning, agonal gasping resembles the gasping movements of 'a fish out of water', when the breathing reflex starts to return, it can begin as regular gagging until recovery of rhythmic breathing, requires function of somatosensory and motor cortex, intentional vocalization indicates consciousness, when it occurs with stunning, is a pain response, gasping accompanied by guttural sounds are not the same as vocalization, kicking or paddling after stunning is most often a sign that inhibition of spinal nerve transmission patterns is lost, they are involuntary moments that are independent of consciousness, in addition, the somatic reflex arc may sometimes cause the unconscious animal after stunning to react to sticking/cutting painful stimuli, usually in the form of movement of the forelegs; these are spinal reflexes that do not involve the central nervous system, paddling of limbs can occur in unconscious animals during gas stunning but the body is limp, tonic seizures post-stunning are characterized by an arched back and rigidly flexed legs under the body; these are expected signs for mechanical and electrical stunning and are followed by clonic seizure activity that includes random leg kicking or paddling, evaluate with other signs and type of stunning method, righting reflex may be helped by subcortical CNS structures, but in most cases means function of the cerebral cortex and return of proprioception and muscle tone, righting may be impaired by shackling or restraint or the use of certain current forms in electrical stunning, an animal attempting to right itself will have an arched back, and attempt to raise its head or attempt to regain posture, if the righting reflex is present it is very likely that the animal is sensible, a relaxed tail does not occur together with an arched back or righting, body hangs straight down except sheep with neck hanging at an angle because of different anatomy, a floppy, flaccid, relaxed head and neck, hanging straight down in shackled animals indicates that muscle tone and in most cases cerebral control over posture are lost, if the head is floppy, in most cases consciousness is lost, muscle tension in the jaw, mouth or lips can indicate presence of cranial nerve function (sign of returning to sensibility), these signs can be useful indicators of poor stunning particularly in animals that are stunned with a captive bolt (less useful with firearm, electrical or gas stunning ), response to nose prick or pinch or ear pinch may indicate presence of cortical nerve activity in the respective circuit of sensory and motor cranial nerves, other responses may be a simple nociceptive arc-reflex response, based on a neural circuit that passes through the spinal cord, but not the brain, the nerves involved in the arc-reflex retain some functionality for a while after unconsciousness, response to nose prick/ear pinch may indicate consciousness or possible return to sensibility, ventral movement of neck in response to cutting of skin and blood vessels can be a nociceptive reflex response involving the spinal cord only; the reaction to the skin cut and other tissues cannot be used as an indicator of consciousness, need to evaluate with other signs, such as whether the head is floppy, a relaxed tongue may indicate loss of cranial nerve function, The tongue may hang out also due to gravity when the jaw muscles are relaxed, and this is a sign that the animal is unconscious, This can be confirmed by manipulating the jaws by hand and if there is no resistance to movement, the animal is unconscious, A curled tongue can be a sign of possible return to sensibility, neck positions are variable but should be consistent for all birds in a lot using same electrical parameters, for example the necks will be initially stiff and arched (perhaps parallel to the ground when shackled); this phase will rapidly disappear after neck cutting so applies to step between stunning neck cutting, then the head and neck will become limp after the clonic seizure phase is finished; flaccid head, absence of rhythmic breathing (check cloaca for movements to indicate breathing), absence of spontaneous blinking and the third eyelid (nictitating membrane) reflex, absence of other eye reflexes (palpebral, corneal and pupillary). 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