Killing individual poultry on-farm-a survey among veterinarians and farmers
Moons, Christel P. H.
Tuyttens, Frank A. M.
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To date, information about reasons to select and kill poultry on-farm and which method veterinarians and poultry producers preferably use is scarce. Little is also known about their knowledge of the legislation regarding on-farm killing methods and of methods alternative to the one(s) they use, as well as their perception of those alternatives. In this study, Flemish poultry veterinarians (n = 13), broiler chicken producers (n = 27), and turkey producers (n = 4) were surveyed on killing methods they currently use in practice and alternative methods, on their opinion about what constitutes an appropriate method for on-farm killing of poultry, and on their reasons for killing. All poultry veterinarians and chicken producers who filled out the survey kill poultry by manual cervical dislocation (CD), whereas some turkey farmers also indicated killing by percussive blow to the head (n = 1) or exsanguination (n = 1). Turkey producers seem to be more inclined not to kill animals with injuries or symptoms of disease as compared to veterinarians or chicken producers, such that moribund turkeys are more likely to remain in the flock. Veterinarians considered the following properties of a killing method important: animal friendliness, applicability inside the stable, a high success rate, and time efficiency. Producers ranked the properties similarly, but for them, ease of performance and cost efficiency were more important than applicability inside the stable. Producers scored those killing properties rather positively for manual as well as mechanical CD. Veterinarians and chicken producers considered the captive bolt method to be easy to perform, to have a high success rate, to be feasible to perform in the stable, and to be animal friendly. Turkey producers, however, had doubts about the latter 2 properties. Gas, injection, and electrocution were inferior methods to kill poultry according to producers. In conclusion, manual CD is the most common method for killing broiler chickens and turkeys, and knowledge of, and experience with, alternative methods is very limited, both among veterinarians and producers. Informing them about legislation and training for the use of alternative killing techniques are recommended.