UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

  • UWRF Humane Handling Institute
  • Kurt Vogel, HHI Director, demonstrates effective electrical stunning for market pigs while recording training video with a hardhat mounted action camera.
  • HHI

Humane Handling Institute

Humane Handling Institute

Background

HHI was formed in the fall of 2022 with support from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Meat Talent Development Program. 

HHI is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive 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. 

The Director of the HHI is Dr. Kurt Vogel, Associate Professor of Livestock Welfare and Behavior. Vogel earned his PhD in Livestock Behavior and Welfare under Dr. Temple Grandin at Colorado State University. Since 2014, the UW-River Falls Animal Welfare Lab has tracked humane handling enforcement actions by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and consistently identified pre-slaughter stunning as a critical area of need for additional training and development. This led directly to the formation of the HHI. 

This program will include a series of 2.5-day long workshops that cover the following topics. 

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

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.

Tuition reimbursement will be offered for 120 trainees from small and very small slaughter establishment to enroll in Workshops 3 and 5, which 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.

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

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.

Watch for more information soon!

Please anticipate the first offering of workshops to be available in Fall of 2023.

In the News

Click on the link below to access any current News Release coverage.

November 2022: Mid-West Farm Report - click here. 

October 2022: News Release - click here.


Program Director

Dr. Kurt Vogel, Associate Professor of Livestock Welfare and Behavior.

Kurt Vogel 2017


Program Manager

Ashlynn Kirk

Earned M.S. in Animal Biology at the University of California, Davis;
B.S. in Animal Science - Meat Animal Emphasis, Food Processing Technology Minor at University of Wisconsin - River Falls.Akirk_22