Development of a microwave stunning system for cattle 2: Preliminary observations on behavioural responses and EEG
DTS: Diathermic Syncope® (DTS) is a novel system for rendering animals insensible prior to slaughter, utilizing microwave energy to induce a rise in temperature in the brain to a point at which the animal is expected to lose consciousness. During development and optimisation of the system, two trials were carried out utilizing non-anaesthetized adult cattle, to gather data on behavioural outcomes and EEG changes following energy application. In trial1, ten cattle received DTS treatments (high energy >290 kJ, n = 3; low energy <200 >kJ, n = 4; and intermediate 200 < 290 kJ, n = 3), and seven received captive bolt stunning, prior to exsanguination. In trial 2, following improvements to the efficiency of energy delivery, 20 cattle received DTS (200-360 kJ). Post treatment EEG was characterized by seizure-like activity and reductions in 95% spectral edge and median frequencies; with EEG suppression persisting for at least 80 s up to over 4 min post treatment application. Animals showed: Loss of posture, Loss of corneal responses; Loss of withdrawal response (pinprick); Eye staring, not following movement. The animals remained unresponsive to stimuli for up to 4 min post DTS, and behavioural expression of distress was not observed. Seventeen of the 30 animals showed indications of returning reflex responses after 100 s post treatment, suggesting that animals receiving lower energy applications may recover from the stun.