The history of cattle prods
A cattle prod, also called a stock prod, is a handheld device commonly used to make cattle or other livestock move by striking or poking them. An electric cattle prod is a stick with electrodes on the end which is used to make cattle move through a relatively high-voltage, low-current electric shock.
In an electric cattle prod, which is the precursor to the modern day stun gun, dual surface electrodes produce a very high voltage/very low current electric arc between them, which, when pressed against conductive skin, produces a painful but superficial electric shock which stimulates the target to cease their current activity and move in the direction opposite the source of the pain. With higher current, the cattle prod is the equivalent of a stun gun and functions exactly the same way. Cattle prods are the precursor to direct contact electric stun guns used against humans, and their basic operating principles are the same. The major differences are primarily in the matter of size and power: cattle prods tend to have a higher electric current and a longer handle than stun guns, which is helpful when dealing with very large, powerful animals.
Regular cattle prods can actually be anything from a baton (goad) or piece of pipe properly wired, to a manufactured fiberglass rod with a rubber handle or even a rectangular-shaped device similar to today's stun guns, which also feature batons. Most prods use two metal tips, but some are rubberized for herding stubborn animals.
The electric cattle prod is designed to inflict a painful shock to cattle, and thus "prod" them along; the pain stimulates movement. Some higher-voltage prods can interfere with radio and CB radio reception when activated.
There are various designs of electric cattle prods. Their shape is often subject to guidelines of what can easily be used and handled. They range in length from six inches (usually of a more encased rectangular prism design like a stun gun), to up to six feet. As the precursor of stun guns, cattle prods also have a wide range of voltage with enough current to operate in the same manner as a stun gun does against humans. A stun gun is nothing more than a beefed up cattle prod and both can be used on humans or animals by design. Whether it is called a cattle prod or a stun gun, both units are shaped for easy carry and function in the same manner against animals or humans. Most are simple designs powered by 9-volt or a combination of other types of batteries. Anything out of that range is usually too heavy and unwieldy for practical use. Another typical design is a box containing a large battery (or battery pack) at the handle end and wires embedded in a fibreglass rod, ending with two electrodes in a rubber tip. This design is well-suited for use as a regular cattle prod.