Guinea pigs (Cavia porcelus) are an important source of nonhuman animal protein in the Andean region of South America. Specific guidelines regarding the welfare of guinea pigs before and during slaughter have yet to be developed. This study critically assessed the humaneness of 4 different stunning/slaughter methods for guinea pigs: cervical neck dislocation (n = 60), electrical head-only stunning (n = 83), carbon dioxide (CO2) stunning (n = 21), and penetrating captive bolt (n = 10). Following cervical neck dislocation, 97% of guinea pigs had at least 1 behavioral or cranial/spinal response. Six percent of guinea pigs were classified as mis-stunned after electrical stunning, and 1% were classified as mis-stunned after captive bolt. Increased respiratory effort was observed during CO2 stunning. Apart from this finding, there were no other obvious behavioral responses that could be associated with suffering. Of the methods assessed, captive bolt was deemed the most humane, effective, and practical method of stunning guinea pigs. Cervical neck dislocation should not be recommended as a slaughter method for guinea pigs.
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© 2016, © The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.