Disease control measures require poultry to be killed on farms to minimise the risk of disease being transmitted to other poultry, and in some cases to protect public health. High expansion gas-filled foam has been shown to have potential as a possible for humane emergency killing of poultry. It may also have potential for other applications where there are concerns over welfare, e.g. killing laying hens in a poultry shed at the end of lay.
This project will assess the welfare implications for individual birds of application of anoxic (nitrogen filled) gas-foam. Appuratus capable of delivering gas filled foam of the correct specification will be developed and incorporated into a pilot testing appuratus. Measurement of key physiological parameters during the application of anoxic gas-foam (versus air control) will allow inferences to be drawn about time to loss of consciousness, time to non-recovery, cause of death and potential welfare insults experienced by birds during the euthansia process. The project will also include development work to scale up exisiting foam generators to delivery rates suitable for large poultry houses with the ultimate aim of producing reliable implementation protocols.
The project will be undertaken in collaboration with complementary research in The USA and the Netherlands.
In brief, we will undertake one common experiment using nitrogen gas-filled foam with chickens, ducks and turkeys using common methods. This will ensure that the results are directly comparable between the major species of poultry, avoid duplication of effort and provide the basis of internationally agreed methods of humane killing of poultry, during a disease epidemic or for spent laying hens, broiler and turkey breeders at the end of lay.
The findings of this project will be presented to the British poultry industry, Government officials, Animal Health, welfare NGOs and poultry veterinarians. The dissemination meeting will also cover the complementary research in the USA and the Netherlands.