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Arterial blood supply to the head of red deer

  • G.E. Callaghan (a1), M.H. Anil (a1), J.L. McKinstry (a1) and A.V. Fisher (a1)


Continuation of arterial blood supply to the head following slaughter of certain ruminant meat animal species can lead to delays in loss of sensibility and present welfare problems. This sometimes occurs in cattle due to an anastomosis linking the vertebral arteries to the carotid rete. The arterial supply to the head of the ox was found to differ from that of the sheep. In the ox the vertebral arteries can supply blood to the carotid rete via the basi-occipital plexus (Baldwin and Bell, 1963). This additional anastomosis means that there is still a potential blood supply to the head after the carotids have been severed by neck sticking Anil et al, 1995). Blood clots on the severed carotid arteries following neck sticking can occur in up to 40% of cases to varying degrees and sometimes lead to occlusions for a number of reasons. This phenomenon of carotid occlusion means the occipital-vertebral anastomosis and the vertebral-carotid rete anastomosis take on more importance when neck sticking is used. This is especially true for religious slaughter and neck sticking where electrical stunning is used. It is not clear whether such an anastomosis exists in the head of red deer. The traditional and still legal method of slaughter of farmed deer is by head shot in the field, however, there has been an increase in the number of deer being culled in abattoirs. In addition, there have been recent suggestions that religious slaughter without stunning may be initiated in the U.K. abattoirs. This possibility and and the increased number of abattoirs slaughtering deer have prompted this study to look at the arterial blood supply in the head of the deer. This increase combined with the problems of arterial supply found in cattle has prompted this study.



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Anil, M.H, Mckinstry, J.L, Gregory, N.G, Wotton, S.B and Symonds, H. (1995). Welfare of calves at slaughter: Increase in vertebral artery blood flow following neck sticking and an evaluation of chest sticking as an alternative. Meat Science (in press).
Baldwin, B.A and Bell, F.R (1963). Blood flow in the carotid andvertebralarteries of the sheep and calves. J. Physiology, 167, 448462.


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