RIVER FALLS, WIS. — On Oct. 20, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) announced a new program that provides hands-on training for current meat industry workers in humane pre-slaughter handling, transport, stunning, humane handling program development, and stunning equipment maintenance.

The Humane Handling Institute (HHI) was formed with support from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Meat Talent Development Program. HHI received $525,000 for the next two years.

“The objective of the program is to develop humane handlers, stunner operators, and maintenance personnel that have a deeper understanding of the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ of humane handling, stunning, and slaughter,” UWRF said. “Certification through the program will help to improve and strengthen the skill level of key meat industry employees, address key regulatory issues in meat processing establishments, and strengthen consumer trust in meat processing establishments of all sizes.”

The program includes a series of 2.5-day long workshops, with the option of attending all the sessions or a select few that fit the trainee’s needs. After completing the series, trainees receive a certificate in humane handling and stunning and the limited rights to use the program logo in marketing and promotional materials.

The following topics are offered:

  • Workshop 1: Animal welfare and handling from farm through transport
  • Workshop 2: Livestock receiving and lairage
  • Workshop 3: Effective and humane restraint and stunning
  • Workshop 4: Stunning equipment operation and maintenance
  • Workshop 5: Building a robust Systematic Approach to Animal Welfare

UWRF is offering 120 workers from small establishments tuition reimbursement for Workshops 3 and 5.

Associate Professor of Livestock Welfare and Behavior Kurt Vogel, PhD, will head HHI. Vogel earned his PhD at Colorado State University under Dr. Temple Grandin, a MEAT+POULTRY contributing writer.

UWRF hopes to take the program to a national level soon.