CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to documents provided to MyHighPlains.com by the United States Department of Agriculture, officials from the department shut down West Texas A&M University’s meat laboratory after not complying with the department’s regulations during an incident that occurred earlier this month.

Around 7:30 a.m. on May 9, witnesses said they saw the “egregious ineffective stunning” of a Hereford steer. The witness said in the document that they saw employees of the lab or students of the university travel back and forth to the lab’s equipment room to reload the stun gun.

“In the process of trying to render the steer unconscious, the establishment repeatedly stunned it seven times; six stunning attempts being ineffective,” the documents read. “The steer remained in standing posture and vocalized loudly during the stunning event. The animal was rendered unconscious on the seventh attempt.”

Because of the incident, the university’s meat laboratory was suspended, the documents said. After officials from the university provided a written response to the office that provided “immediate corrective actions and further preventative measures to ensure that animals would be humanely handled and slaughtered at (the) facility,” the laboratory was reopened that same day.

The corrective actions and preventative measures included the following, according to the documents:

  • The storage of cartridges in a dry storage area;
  • Test firing of captive bolts before each day’s use;
  • Application of two back-up captive bolt devices fully loaded and tested;
  • Application of a secondary knock on each animal;
  • Training of employees (stun operators);
  • Documentation of stun activity.

Officials with West Texas A&M University provided MyHighPlains.com with the following statement surrounding the incident:

“On May 9, a steer was being routinely harvested for University research. During the process, an equipment malfunction occurred. The researchers proceeded to ensure that the animal was handled humanely. Immediately thereafter, WT Meat Science leadership suspended operations to fully investigate and correct the situation. The on-site USDA inspector overseeing the process lifted the suspension after the problem was shown to have been resolved, and regular operations resumed.”

West Texas A&M University officials

Officials with West Texas A&M stressed that the university’s meat laboratory continues to operate as normal after the incident.