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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Nitrous Oxide for Piglet Euthanasia: Validation by Electroencephalography (EEG)

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 5020-32000-011-05-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 15, 2013
End Date: Jul 15, 2014

Our overall objective is to ultimately develop and validate a gas euthanasia procedure that leads to a humane death of the piglets and that is practical and feasible on-farm. The specific objectives of this proposal are to: 1) evaluate the aversiveness of inhaling nitrous oxide and oxygen, using our previously validated approach which relies on the pig’s perspective, and 2) validate the effectiveness and humaneness of nitrous oxide and oxygen to induce loss of consciousness by electroencephalogram (EEG) recording.

This experiment will use the approach-avoidance test that we developed and validated in our previous project. Briefly, pigs will be allowed to walk freely between one chamber filled with air (‘control chamber’) and another chamber filled with the gas mixture (’test chamber’). The test chamber will contain attractive stimuli in the form of a heat lamp, a towel with the odor of the dam’s udder, a speaker playing nursing grunts, dry powdered milk, iron replacement meal and 3 littermates placed on the other side of a plexiglass wall. The test is designed as a conflict situation between the piglet’s willingness to enter and stay in the test chamber containing the attractive stimuli, and the gas. The piglet can choose to remain in the control chamber which will contain only air and no attractive stimuli. The test will be conducted for 10 min. Behavior will be recorded live and by using a camera mounted directly above the box, and analyzed based on location and activity. Heart rate will be collected by fitting the piglet with a belt and a heart rate recorder for the duration of the test. For both experiments, we will use 7, 14 day old, piglets per treatment. We validated in our previous project that this sample size and age are adequate to address the research question.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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