While reviewing humane handling at slaughter establishments in North, Central and Latin America, one thing is clear: pigs are much larger and heavier than they were when I graduated from college in 1983. The good news is that the Best and Donovan Company, makers of the most commonly used pig stunners in small and very-small plants, understands this change. The company has developed a stun wand with longer tongs to more effectively electrically stun today’s 240-lb. to 270-lb. market pigs plus larger boars and sows.

The new stun wand with longer tongs should be equipped with at least two sets of star wheels to accommodate smaller and larger pigs. For plants that already have a B&D stun wand, a set of two stun-wand extensions can be purchased from Best and Donovan for a price of $62 each (the wand extension part number is #9600017) and retrofitted to an existing wand.

Best and Donovan has also made available an extra set of spurs (star wheels) with a collar that can be quickly attached to the Model ES and Model ESS stun wand and the wand extensions to span the head of larger, heavier pigs more effectively. The part number is #9603900 and the cost of the extra spurs is $22.36 per pair.

The benefits of installing the wand extensions and additional spurs are:

1. This one-time installation will make it possible to stun smaller pigs, such as roasters and larger pigs (heavy market sows and boars) with the same wand. Depending on the pig weight, stunner electrical settings will vary, but the modified wand should accommodate a variety of animal sizes.

2. The longer wand extensions make it easier to “lock” on to the correct stunning location on the pig head, without slipping or loss of contact.

3. The additional stun tong surface area helps to assure a more effective and efficient head stun.

4. The same tongs can be utilized for the heart stun, to prolong insensibility, prior to hoisting and bleeding.

Resource slides for training employees on the use of the B&D stunners as well as information on how to perform the head/heart stunning using this equipment can be found at www.VoogdConsulting.com. To order the new stun wand extensions and spurs, contact Best and Donovan, (800) 553-2378, Ext. 3737.