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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Poultry Microbiological Safety and Processing Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359939

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

Location: Poultry Microbiological Safety and Processing Research Unit

Title: Development of on-farm euthanasia methods for individual larger older birds

item Harris, Caitlin
item JACABS, LEONIE - Georgia Tech
item BOURASSA, DIANNA - Auburn University
item Bartenfeld Josselson, Lydia
item Buhr, Richard - Jeff

Submitted to: International Poultry Scientific Forum
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/19/2018
Publication Date: 2/11/2019
Citation: Harris, C.E., Jacabs, L., Bourassa, D.V., Bartenfeld, L.N., Buhr, R.J. 2019. Development of on-farm euthanasia methods for individual larger older birds [abstract]. International Poultry Scientific Forum. 98(E-Suppl.1):P258. p.78.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Because of the difficulty of euthanizing larger older birds (i.e. turkeys and broiler breeders) via manual cervical dislocation, alternative on-farm euthanasia methods need to be developed. The goal of this research was to develop and assess methods of euthanasia for larger older birds that would be safe to administer by a single operator. The assessed methods included: mechanical cervical dislocation, captive bolt, carbon dioxide (CO2) inhalation, and electrocution (head-to-cloaca). In order to allow for each method to be performed by a single operator, a mobile bird euthanasia apparatus (MBEA) was constructed. A plastic traffic cone was attached to a gas cylinder cart and mounted at a 45 degrees, which allowed for a bird to be inserted into the cone with the head exposed. Utilization of a plastic cone allowed for customization of the head opening based on bird size (5 and 6 wk old broilers to turkey hens and toms) as well as the non-conductivity for use during electrocution euthanasia. Use of a MBEA allowed the bird to be properly positioned for euthanasia by a single operator and minimized the clonic/tonic convulsions that may occur with these euthanasia methods. The Koechner euthanizing device (KED) was used for mechanical cervical dislocation by separating the skull from the spinal cord. Captive bolt euthanasia was administered with a turkey euthanasia device (TED) to induce brain concussion. Both KED and TED are large bird euthanasia devices currently on the market. In addition to these methods, a portable CO2 inhalation euthanasia device was developed using a face mask to perform head-only gas stun/kill with a maximum concentration of 30% CO2 at 1 min increasing to 70% at 3 min. Euthanasia by electrocution (120 V AC for 15 s) induced unconsciousness and cardiac fibrillation, resulting in hypoxia. For all euthanasia methods, birds were monitored for 4 mins to ensure absence of induced brain stem reflexes (nictitating eye membrane and toe pinch). In conclusion, the MBEA successfully allowed for the implementation of each euthanasia method by a single user. Of the four methods tested, TED and electrocution were the easiest to administer by one user, followed by KED and the CO2 method requires additional modification to achieve a consistent death within 4 min.