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Assessing Physical Methods for On-Farm Killing of Domestic Turkeys

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Title: Assessing Physical Methods for On-Farm Killing of Domestic Turkeys
Author: Woolcott, Caitlin
Department: Department of Animal Biosciences
Program: Animal and Poultry Science
Advisor: Widowski, Tina
Abstract: On-farm euthanasia is an important welfare issue in the turkey industry. The objectives of this thesis were to (1) assess two non-penetrating captive bolt (NPCB) devices across age groups, and (2) compare mechanical cervical dislocation (MCD) to manual cervical dislocation (CD) for poults and young turkeys. Brainstem reflexes (BSR) and cardiac arrest were used to estimate time to insensibility and death followed by post-mortem scores of the head, neck, and brain. NPCB caused immediate loss of BSR in over 89% of birds, with skull fractures and brain hemorrhage in 100% of birds. Neither MCD nor CD induced immediate insensibility, with longer durations of BSR, shorter vertebral displacement distances and more vertebral fractures for MCD than CD. Most birds had minimal evidence of post-mortem brain hemorrhage for CD and MCD. Both NPCB devices were highly effective as single step methods of euthanasia for turkeys. MCD was inconsistent in poults and young turkeys.
Date: 2017-12
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