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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Poultry Microbiological Safety & Processing Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359935

Research Project: Production and Processing Intervention Strategies for Poultry Associated Foodborne Pathogens

Location: Poultry Microbiological Safety & Processing Research

Title: Evaluation of electrocution, koechner euthanasia device, turkey euthanasia device, and carbon dioxide gas euthanasia methods on breeder beltsville small white turkeys

Author
item Buhr, Richard - Jeff
item Harris, Caitlin
item BOURASSA, DIANNA - Auburn University
item JACOBS, LEONIE - Virginia Tech

Submitted to: International Poultry Scientific Forum
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/19/2018
Publication Date: 2/11/2019
Citation: Buhr, R.J., Harris, C.E., Bourassa, D.V., Jacobs, L. 2019. Evaluation of electrocution, koechner euthanasia device, turkey euthanasia device, and carbon dioxide gas euthanasia methods on breeder beltsville small white turkeys [abstract]. International Poultry Scientific Forum. 99(E-Suppl.1):M121. p.38.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: On-farm euthanasia of individual broiler and turkey breeders using cervical dislocation is difficult due to the physical strength required to handle these older, large birds. Alternative euthanasia systems utilizing electrocution (120 V AC for 15 s), mechanical cervical dislocation (Koechner Euthanizing Device KED), captive bolt (Turkey Euthanasia Device TED), and carbon dioxide (30 to 70% in 4 min, CO2) were developed and applied to Beltsville Small White breeder turkeys at flock termination. Euthanasia methods were evaluated for their ability to be administrated by a sole operator, relative safety, and physiological bird responses. On a single day, individual turkeys (40 hens 3.51 kg and 16 toms 8.26 kg) were placed head-first into a plastic cone positioned at approximately 45 degrees that allowed access to the head for each euthanasia method and restricted the subsequent clonic/tonic musculoskeletal convulsions. Loss of induced nictitating eye membrane reflex, loss of pain reflex (toe pinch), cessation of musculoskeletal movement, skin damage, success of the initial application, and declaration of death were evaluated at 4 min post-application. All 14 turkeys euthanized using electrocution were determined dead with no observed induced reflexes or movements present at 4 min post application. For KED, 7/14 turkeys retained muscle movement and eye reflex, and 1/14 retained a pain reflex at 4 min. TED application resulted in 2/14 turkeys continuing to have muscle movement at 4 min post application. For CO2, 2/14 turkeys retained muscle movement and eye reflex at 4 min. All turkeys euthanized with KED, TED, or CO2 methods displayed clonic/tonic musculoskeletal convulsions during the 4 min. Broken skin/bleeding was present in all TED turkeys and in 12/14 KED turkeys. The rank order for ease of application by a sole operator was Electrocution : TED : KED : CO2. Attaining a concentration of CO2 at 30% within 1 min and then 70% within 3 min was variable. Presence of persistent musculoskeletal movements at 4 min (although brainstem reflexes were absent indicating unconsciousness) required a second euthanasia application by electrocution for 2/14 KED-treated and 1/14 CO2-treated turkeys. Future research to refine euthanasia methods and apply for broilers breeders is planned.