When an avian influenza or virulent Newcastle disease outbreak occurs within commercial poultry, a large number of birds that are infected or suspected of infection must be destroyed on site to prevent the rapid spread of disease. The choice of mass emergency depopulation procedures is limited, and all options have limitations. Water-based foam mass emergency depopulation of poultry was developed in 2006 and conditionally approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and American Veterinary Medical Association. Water-based foam causes mechanical hypoxia and can be used for broilers, layers, turkeys, and ducks. The time to physiologic states was evaluated for broilers, layer hens, turkeys, and ducks, comparing water-based foam and CO2 gas using electroencephalogram (unconsciousness and brain death), electrocardiogram (altered terminal cardiac activity), and accelerometer (motion cessation). In broilers, turkeys, and layer hens, water-based foam results in equivalent times to unconsciousness, terminal convulsions, and altered terminal cardiac activity. With Pekin ducks, however, CO2 gas resulted in shorter times to key physiologic states, in particular unconsciousness, altered terminal cardiac activity, motion cessation, and brain death.
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