Ratification Date: 15 Oct 2010

Position Statement

Electro-immobilisation for veterinary interventions should only be used for animal restraint where there is no feasible alternative. Use of the instrument should take into account the welfare of the animal and the safety of the operator. The Australian Veterinary Association recommends that electro-immobilisation be conducted by veterinarians as it involves complex aspects of animal welfare.


Electro-immobilisation involves passing a pulsed, low-voltage electrical current through the body of an animal. Usually, electrodes are applied to two parts of the animal’s body and the electric current is delivered along the animal’s spine. The electrical current induces contraction of the muscles supplied by the nerves of that segment of the spine, preventing voluntary movement of the animal. Movement is regained as soon as the current is switched off.

Electro-immobilisation devices have been used to immobilise animals in order to perform animal husbandry procedures when there are perceived risks to the safety of the handler or the animal with other forms of restraint. Electro-immobilisation should not be used as a substitute for effective holding and restraining facilities.

Producers should be encouraged to select for good temperament in their livestock breeding programs to reduce the need for such devices. At present, there is no evidence to suggest that electro-immobilisation induces analgesia. There is evidence that it does produce avoidance behaviour in some animals, which indicates that it may cause pain and suffering.

Other relevant policies and position statements

Pain and analgesia


  1. Grandin T, Curtis SE, Widowski TM, Thurmon JC. Electro-immobilization versus mechanical restraint in an avoid-avoid choice test for ewes. J Anim Sci 1986:62;1469-1480.
  2. Shrode RR, Hammack SP. Chute behavior of yearling beef cattle (Abstr.). J Anim Sci 1971;33:193.
  3. Stricklin WR, Heisler CE, Wilson LL. Heritability of temperament in beef cattle (Abstr.). J Anim Sci 1980;51(Suppl 1):109.

Date of ratification by AVA Board 15 October 2010