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A pilot study to assess whether high expansion CO2;-enriched foam is acceptable for on-farm emergency killing of poultry

By M. A. Gerritzen, J. Sparrey

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This pilot experiment was conducted to ascertain whether CO2-enriched high expansion foam could be an acceptable and efficient alternative in emergency killing of poultry. This method could have wide-ranging applications but with particular emphasis on small (backyard) flocks, free-range sheds or open (naturally-ventilated) housings. The objectives of the study were as follows: (1) to determine whether the injection of foam and being covered with foam leads to fear or panic reactions in birds; (2) to determine the time taken to render birds unconscious and dead and (3) to determine whether any pathological abnormalities are observed post mortem. Six laying hens were individually exposed to increasing levels of CO2 foam with an expansion rate of 300:1. The test box containing individual birds filled with foam within 30 s. During foaming, two out of six birds tried to escape from the test box (1-2 attempts per bird). Apart from displaying greater alertness, birds showed no aversive reactions to the CO2 foam. Twenty-to-thirty seconds after being covered with foam, five of the six birds demonstrated one or two forceable or convulsive movements. Movement patterns and muscle jerks immediately following this convulsive movement led us to believe that birds lost consciousness at this moment and, within approximately three minutes, all birds had ceased to have a heartbeat. Macroscopic post mortem examination of the birds revealed no abnormalities and microscopic examination showed moderate bronchiolar bleeding and a small amount of alveolar bleeding. After assessing behavioural parameters, measurements of heart rate and pathological data, it is our conclusion that CO2 foam has the potential to be an acceptable method of killing poultry. It is advisable for this method to be examined on a larger scale in order to assess the implications of physiological (EEG and ECG) measurements on welfare.

Date 2008
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 17
Issue 3
Pages 285-288
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Animal Sciences Group WUR, Department of Animal Husbandry, Division Animal Welfare & Health, PO Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Abnormal behavior
  2. Animal diseases
  3. Animal health and hygiene
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Autopsy
  8. Birds
  9. Chickens
  10. Diagnosis
  11. Electrocardiograms
  12. Electroencephalograms
  13. Flocks
  14. Fowls
  15. Goals
  16. Heart
  17. Heart rate
  18. Injection
  19. Methodologies
  20. Methods
  21. muscles
  22. objectives
  23. pathology
  24. postmortem examinations
  25. Poultry
  26. slaughter
  27. targets
  28. Techniques