"Stunning" refers to the methods of attempting to render an animal or bird unconscious prior to slaughter. The main methods used in the general slaughtering industry for cattle and sheep are:

• captive bolt gun: a steel bolt is shot into the skull at the front of the animal’s brain.

• electric shock: electrodes are clamped to the animal's head/heart and the animal is electrocuted.

These methods are contrary to Jewish law, because an animal intended for food must be healthy and uninjured at the time of shechita. The above stunning methods injure the animal, making it treifa (non-kosher and thus prohibited). If the stunning kills the animal it makes it neveila (an animal which has not been shechted) and is forbidden as food for Jews.

With these methods, during the delay between the stun and sticking or cutting, the animal can regain consciousness, as has been reported by animal welfare groups. The stun effected by shechita is irreversible and there is no delay. Shechita therefore, is humane and efficient.

Apart from the halachic prohibition against the above methods of stunning, there is no conclusive evidence that these methods render an animal insensible to pain. There is evidence that they are only paralyzed, and thus prevented from displaying their pain. Furthermore when the captive bolt method fails, as it does in a significant percentage of cases, it causes considerable additional suffering and distress to the animal. In such cases, the conscious animal is in acute pain as the captive bolt gun is reloaded and reapplied, or the electrical tongs reapplied to re-stun the animal. Shechita avoids these problems of ineffective stunning, since there is no mechanical or electrical appliance to be misapplied or go wrong. Shechita produces an effective and irreversible stun as well as being a humane and efficient slaughter method.