An alternative method for the stunning of broilers has proved to be effective and deliver welfare outcomes similar to the most commonly used and humane in commercial processing plants.
Working with other researchers in Scotland and at the University of Arkansas, Jessica Martin, of the University of Edinburgh, has been investigating the behaviour and physiology of broilers subjected to Low Atmospheric Pressure Stunning (LAPS) as an alternative to Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS). In Dr Martin’s experiments, birds showed a consistent pattern in behaviour under LAPS, starting with reduced coordination, and progressing through loss of posture and convulsions to motionlessness. All had died within two minutes of the LAPS treatment, and were motionless one minute later.
Photo: Bart Nijs
LAPS involves gradual decompression of the atmosphere in the stunning chamber over a period of four minutes, while CAS systems replace oxygen with other gases to induce irreversible stunning in the birds. As one of the paper’s co-authors, Malcolm Mitchell, pointed out, one of the advantages of the LAPS over CAS is that it does not involve the on-going requirement to purchase gas.