A more Humane way to slaughter PoultryPosted: October 08, 2010 at 9:32 AM by Real Estate Information
Mississippi State University researchers are suggesting a new method of poultry slaughter that has positive implications for animal welfare.
Their research had, as a goal, the object of developing a humane way to slaughter broiler chickens. The researchers have a designed a system that will increase the efficiency of slaughter practices and can be adapted to fit existing equipment. The system, they claim, will address economic issues as well as safety issues, while producing a high-quality product. According to laboratory tests, the system has met all of the researchers’ proposed criteria.
The tests evaluated the insensibility and loss of posture in birds via EEG and EKG by attaching electrodes to the birds’ skin. Electrodes were also attached to the skull to measure electrical activity in the brain. These tests recorded an average of 90 per cent reduction in the EEG signal in the birds within 32 seconds. The animals’ hearts exhibited the signs of full fibrillation of both the ventricles and the atria within 35 seconds. Loss of posture was recorded at 37 seconds.
In a second series of laboratory tests, a large prototype was designed that worked with a cage that had a capacity for 256 birds. This next set of experiments determined broiler behaviour by monitoring it by video during the course of the cycle.
The test results revealed that no stress behaviour was observed before the desired pressure was reached. After loss of posture was recorded, the behaviour noted was comparable to that seen with gas stunning. Furthermore, no vocalizations were noted during the complete cycle.
In the industrial application, the birds’ corticosterone levels were recorded. Comparisons were run against twenty birds a day slaughtered in a different manner for three days. In this way, a mean level of the stress hormone was determined and compared to that of the electrically-stunned broilers.
In the findings, the birds slaughtered through the newer, humane method had no processing problems and were slaughtered more efficiently. Automated processing procedures did not present any problems.
While the system is still being tested and perfected, it will likely be on the market soon, as consumers demand increasingly humane methods of elevation and slaughter from livestock producers.