Benson, E., Weiher, J., Alphin, R. et al. 2018. Evaluation of two compressed air foam systems for culling caged layer hens. Animals 8(5), 61.
Outbreaks of avian influenza (AI) and other highly contagious poultry diseases continue to be a concern for those involved in the poultry industry. In the situation of an outbreak, emergency depopulation of the birds involved is necessary. In this project, two compressed air foam systems (CAFS) were evaluated for mass emergency depopulation of layer hens in a manure belt equipped cage system. In both experiments, a randomized block design was used with multiple commercial layer hens treated with one of three randomly selected depopulation methods: CAFS, CAFS with CO2 gas, and CO2 gas. In Experiment 1, a Rowe manufactured CAFS was used, a selection of birds were instrumented, and the time to unconsciousness, brain death, altered terminal cardiac activity and motion cessation were recorded. CAFS with and without CO2 was faster to unconsciousness, however, the other parameters were not statistically significant. In Experiment 2, a custom Hale based CAFS was used to evaluate the impact of bird age, a selection of birds were instrumented, and the time to motion cessation was recorded. The difference in time to cessation of movement between pullets and spent hens using CAFS was not statistically significant. Both CAFS depopulate caged layers, however, there was no benefit to including CO2.