The Humane Handling Institute (HHI) is a training program for humane livestock handling, stunning, and equipment maintenance. 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. 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.

Humane Handling Institute

Scheduled Workhops Dates/Times:

Workshops are scheduled to run on a Thursday-Friday timeframe, meeting from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on both days.

Building a Robust Systematic Approach to Animal Welfare
A Robust Systematic Approach to Animal Welfare is a written humane handling program that systematically goes through each step of the process from the time an animal arrives to the time it’s rendered insensible. Trainees will identify any areas in their facility that have potential for animal excitement, discomfort, or accidental injury and then create a written humane handling program to comply with the Humane Slaughter Act, proactively mitigate risk, and promote animal welfare. Trainees will leave this workshop with a complete collection of documents and training materials specific to their slaughter establishment.

  • February 29-March 1, 2024
  • May 2-3, 2024

Effective and Humane Restraint and Stunning
Year after year, the most common enforcement actions issued to slaughter establishments by the USDA FSIS are related to stunning challenges. Successful stunning is crucial for preventing regulatory consequences, safeguarding animal welfare, and the mental wellbeing of employees. In this workshop, trainees will complete hands-on activities related to common animal handling challenges, humane restraint, head anatomy, identifying the optimal placement of a stun, stunning equipment maintenance and more. *Animals are not harmed as part of this workshop.

  • April 4-5, 2024
  • April 18-19, 2024


$1,000 per participant*, includes lunch and morning refreshments.

*Most establishments in Wisconsin qualify for free tuition through a grant from the Wisconsin Meat Talent Development Program. Participants not eligible for the tuition grant are still welcome to register and attend the workshops. Establishments will be invoiced upon completion.


UWRF Campus, specific information for each session will be shared with participants ahead of time.

Cancellation/withdrawal:  Registrant can send a qualified substitute. Up to 10 calendar days prior to the start date, registrant can transfer to a different date, or cancel without penalty, cancellations received fewer than 10 days before the start of their workshop will be invoiced $50 to cover meals and administrative expenses.

Tuition reimbursement will be offered for 120 trainees from small and very small slaughter establishment who enroll in:

  • Effective and Humane Restraint and Stunning
  • Building a Robust Systematic Approach to Animal Welfare

Training will address critical regulatory challenges for plants of that size category. A maximum of two employees per establishment will be granted tuition reimbursement, but any current or aspiring staff may enroll in any of the five workshops.

The UW-River Falls Animal Welfare Lab has been tracking humane handling enforcement actions by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) since 2014. They have consistently identified pre-slaughter stunning as a critical area of need for additional training and development. This led directly to the formation of HHI with support from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Meat Talent Development Program.

The program will provide as much hands-on experience as possible for trainees. Content will accommodate personnel associated with slaughter establishments of all sizes. 

Potential trainees include barn supervisors and management personnel, livestock handlers, stunner operators, maintenance personnel, transporters, livestock market employees and managers, and regulatory and inspection personnel.

UW-River Falls is located 40 miles from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.  The closest hotel to campus is the Radisson Hotel River FallsAccommodations are not included in the registration and should be made separately. 

The City of River Falls is a thriving and growing community located east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in northwestern Wisconsin. With a population of 16,183 residents and 5,862 college students, the City offers 26 parks, miles of hiking and biking trails along the Kinnikinnic River, and a vibrant downtown. There are restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and gas stations located a safe and walkable distance from campus. 

If you require additional assistance or have questions regarding your registration, please email:

Topics will include:

Animal Welfare and Handling from Farm through Transport

Livestock Receiving and Lairage

Stunning Equipment Operation and Maintenance

Trainees have the option of selecting the workshops that fit their needs or completing the entire series of workshops and an additional project for comprehensive certification. Trainees that complete the series and project will receive a certificate in humane handling and stunning and the limited rights to utilize the program logo in marketing and promotional materials.

One-day-long refresher training workshops will also be developed to accompany each of the workshops.

Program endorsements from Dr. Temple Grandin, Colorado State University and David Zarling, Niche Meat Processing Assistance Network


The Humane Hand Newsletters

 Jan. 2024: -click here.


In the News

Click on the links below to access News coverage on the Humane Handling Institute.

June 2023: Campus Newsroom - click here.
May 2023: Campus Newsroomclick here.
March 2023: Meat + Poultry - click here. 
Jan. 2023: Campus Newsroom - click here.
Dec. 2022: WPR Morning Show - click here.
Nov. 2022: AGRI-VIEW - click here.
Nov. 2022: Student Voice - click here.
Nov. 2022: WPR Morning Show - click here.
Nov. 2022: Mid-West Farm Report - click here. 
Oct. 2022: News Release - click here.

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Humane Handling Institute

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