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Humane Handling Institute

Developing Confident and Humane Livestock Handlers

Proudly strengthening the skill level of industry employees and improving consumer trust in meat processing establishments of all sizes. At the Humane Handling Institute (HHI), we train meat industry professionals to handle animals with care and develop stunner operators and maintenance personnel who ensure compassionate treatment throughout the entire process.

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Join Us for an Upcoming Workshop

Tuition support and reimbursement are available to cover workshop fees thanks to support from the Wis. Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the American Meat Science Association (AMSA.)  Check out the simple process to take advantage of this opportunity under Cost and Location listed below. 

To request more information or ask a question please email: hhi@uwrf.edu

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.

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

Upcoming Dates: 

  • Oct. 24-25
Humane Handling students developing their handling programs for their facilities.

Humane Handling students learning about animal handling

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.

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

Upcoming Dates:

  • Sept. 19-20
  • Oct. 10-11
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1
  • Nov. 7-8

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.


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

*For a limited time, most establishments qualify for free tuition through grants from DATCP and AMSA. No workshop fees are paid out of pocket. Sign up online, by phone, or by email. HHI will confirm if you qualify for one of our tuition reimbursement programs. Those who do not qualify will have the option to pay the $1000 workshop fee or cancel. We manage all the paperwork on our end, all you need to do is attend the workshop and cover your own travel expenses.


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.

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: hhi@uwrf.edu

Tuition reimbursement will be offered for a limited time for those who enroll in:

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

We make it super easy. See information under Cost and Location to learn how it works.

J.M. Watkins LLC logo
You provided an environment that allowed us to be comfortable discussing actual events that happened in our plant without casting judgement on us. Your experiences and background brought real world experiences to the class that were relevant to our own plants. I would highly recommend anyone that harvests animals attend this course.
Brandon Clare, J.M. Watkins, Plum City, WI

  • 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.

"Meat" the Team

Kurt Vogel image
Kurt Vogel, Ph.D., Program Director
Professor of Livestock Welfare and Behavior, a go-to resource for humane livestock handling and stunning in the industry for many years.
Ashlynn Kirk image
Ashlynn Kirk, Program Manager
Responsible for daily operations of the HHI, workshop planning, content creation and communicating with slaughter establishments.
Angela Whitaker image
Angela Whitaker, Outreach Program Manager
Responsible for HHI event and workshop planning, specializes in program development for adults in the workforce.

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Humane Handling Institute