Electro-immobilization is NOT a humane method of restraint

by Temple Grandin
Department of Animal Sciences
Colorado State University
Fort Collins 80523-1171

The use of electricity to immobilize and paralyze animals to hold them still is very aversive and bad for animal welfare.

Electro-immobilization must not be confused with electric stunning. When electric stunning is correctly applied a high amperage current is passed through the brain which renders the animal instantly unconscious.

When electro-immobilization is used a very small current is passed through the body that paralyzes the muscles. It does NOT make the animal unconscious and insensible to pain. The animal is paralyzed, but remains conscious. The animal may not be able to vocalize or struggle because the muscles are paralyzed.

The use of electricity to immobilize animals should be forbidden.

Research in many different laboratories has shown that electrical immobilization is very aversive and should not be used as a substitute for a well designed restraint device.


Grandin, T., S. E. Curtis, T. M. Widowski, and J. C. Thurmon. (1986). Electro-immobilization versus mechanical restraint in an avoid-avoid choice test for ewes. Journal of Animal Science. 62:1469-1480

Lambooy, E. (1985). Electroanesthesia or electroimmobilisation of calves, sheep and pigs with the Feenix Stockstill. Veterinary Quarterly. 7:120-126.

Pascoe, P. J. (1986). Humaneness of a electroimmobilization unit in cattle. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 47:2252-2256.

Rushen, J., and Congdon, P. (1986). Sheep may be more averse to electro-immobilization than shearing. Australian Veterinary Journal. 63:373-374.

Rushen, J. (1986). Aversion of sheep to electro-immobilization and physical restraint. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 15:315-324.

Rushen, J. (1986). Using aversion learning techniques to assess the mental state, suffering, and welfare of Farm Animals. Journal of Animal Science. 74:1990-1995.

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