Annex A - Species-Specific Stunning Guidelines - Red Meat Species
5. Horses

5.1 Mechanical

Important factors:

5.1.1 Handling and Restraint

  • Horses vary a great deal in size.
  • Handling and restraint facilities must meet current OIE and industry standards, including OSH requirements.
  • Restraint facilities must be adaptable and appropriate to the size variation of the animals slaughtered.
  • The restraint facilities must be suitable for the operator to stun the animal in an effective manner.

5.1.2 Landmark and approaches

  • Just above the intersection (1 in) of imaginary diagonal lines from the attachment of each ear to the medial canthus (middle corner) of the opposite eye. (See [b] and [c] below.)
  • Plan the trajectory so that the bolt travels through the brain (cerebral hemispheres, midbrain, brainstem). The most significant of these are the midbrain and brainstem which are at the level of the bottom of the attachment of the ears. (See [a] below.)
  • Hold and discharge the stunning device perpendicular to the front of the skull.
  • The frontal bone over the brain is quite thin.
[a] Midbrain and brain stem

head of horse - side view with indication of stun area

[b] Projectile Entry Point

head of horse - front view with indication of stun area and arrow pointing to it

[c] Projectile Entry Point

head of horse - front view with indication of stun area and arrow pointing to it

Legend - landmarks for stunning horses
ImageDescription
diagonal lines running from the inner corner of each eye to the upper edge of the attachment of the opposite ear diagonal lines running from the inner corner of each eye to the upper edge of the attachment of the opposite ear
diagonal lines running from the inner corner of each eye to the upper edge of the attachment of the opposite ear diagonal lines running from the inner corner of each eye to the upper edge of the attachment of the opposite ear
entry point of the projectile which is approximately one inch above the intersection of the diagonal lines entry point of the projectile which is approximately one inch above the intersection of the diagonal lines
entry point of the projectile which is approximately one inch above the intersection of the diagonal lines entry point of the projectile which is approximately one inch above the intersection of the diagonal lines
arrow indicating entry point into the skull and brain cavity arrow indicating entry point into the skull and brain cavity
location of the brainstem and midbrain - in the middle of the skull location of the brainstem and midbrain - in the middle of the skull

5.1.3 Mechanical Stunning Devices

5.1.3.1 Captive bolt

  • Horses are very effectively stunned with captive bolt devices (e.g. Australia).
  • Bolt length 12 cm (4 ¾ in) can be used to stun all horses effectively.
  • Various types and triggering devices are available.
  • Use the manufacturer's recommended charge, cleaning, maintenance and stunning protocols.
  • Assess bolt velocity by using manufacturer's bolt velocity testing device, or similar means daily.
Penetrating Captive Bolt
AnimalCalibreBolt LengthsMuzzle Velocity (ft/s)Energy (ft/lb)
All horses .22, .25, .33 12 cm (4 ¾ in) 55 m/s (183 ft/s) Appropriate charge

5.1.3.2 Firearms

  • When a proper restraint system is used firearms are not necessary to effectively stun horses.
  • Firearm use is discouraged.
  • Perforation and ricochet are a safety concern; therefore use the slowest velocity and minimum energy required to effectively stun the animal. (See below.)
Rimfire Rifle Cartridges
AnimalCalibreGrainMuzzle Velocity (ft/s)Energy (ft/lb)
All horses .22 S* 29 1095 77
All horses .22 LR* 40 1255 140

* Do not use hollow point

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