I am really concerned that audits and assessments of animal welfare or other compliance issues will turn into bureaucratic evaluations of paperwork. You need to ask yourself, do your binders full of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) really describe what you actually do on the plant floor? Has anybody recently looked at the SOPs and then visited the plant floor to determine if they describe procedures accurately? A shelf full of binders may be giving you a false sense of security that you are doing things right, when the reality on the processing floor is different.

Temple Grandin
Dr. Temple Grandin

Let’s look at one example. Everybody knows the importance of good captive bolt stunner maintenance. Most large plants have a test stand to test the stunners to insure that they are well maintained and hitting with sufficient force. An SOP has been written to instruct the maintenance people to test every gun each day. This is a good SOP, but it does not replace having a knowledgeable person looking at the stunning operation. I recently visited a plant where the pneumatic stunner functioned perfectly when tested in the shop, but it was having many problems at the stunning station. When the stunner was tested in the shop it had a different air supply. The poor stunning at the stun box was caused by problems with the compressor at the stunning stand. It was undersized and had not been serviced. Quality assurance people had forgotten that a pneumatic stunner has three parts:

  1. The stunner
  2. The air compressor
  3. The balancer.

In many cases, the gun is well maintained but the other two parts may be neglected. A worn out balancer can cause problems with accurate stunning. One must remember that the balancer has two main components that must work smoothly. The balancer cable reel must allow the heavy pneumatic stunner to move up and down easily and the trolley on the I-beam must also smoothly roll back and forth. At one plant I visited, the gun was working fine but the trolley did not slide back and forth easily.