Gent, T. C., Gebhardt-Henrich, S., Schild, S.-L. A. et al. 2020. Evaluation of poultry stunning with low atmospheric pressure, carbon dioxide or nitrogen using a single aversion testing paradigm. Animals 10(8), 1308.
Low atmospheric pressure stunning (LAPS) has been suggested for use in poultry under 4 kg in the abattoir as a more humane alternative to carbon dioxide (CO2). However, there are currently no studies offering a direct comparison of the aversion between methods. Here, we trained adult female broiler breeders to relinquish a food reward by moving to another area of the gas chamber in response to aversive stimuli. They were then stunned and subsequently killed using single exposure to either CO2, N2, LAPS or medical air as a control. Birds exposed to CO2 relinquished the food reward the quickest and exhibited gasping and headshaking more than the other groups. LAPS resulted in the quickest time to loss of posture (LOP) and birds in the N2 group took the longest. Birds exposed to N2 displayed the longest duration of ataxia of any group; however, they did not show any wing-flapping prior to LOP, unlike the LAPS and CO2. Collectively these data demonstrate that both LAPS and N2 are less aversive to poultry than CO2 and may offer a significant welfare refinement for poultry killed for meat production.