1. Four mechanical poultry killing devices; modified Armadillo (MARM), modified Rabbit Zinger (MZIN), modified pliers (MPLI) and a novel mechanical cervical dislocation gloved device (NMCD), were assessed for their killing potential in the cadavers of euthanised birds of 4 type/age combinations: layer/adult, layer/pullet, broiler/slaughter-age and broiler/chick. 2. A 4x4x4 factorial design (batch x device x bird type + age) was employed. Ten bird cadavers per bird type and age were tested with each of the 4 devices (N = 160 birds). All cadavers were examined post-mortem to establish the anatomical damage caused by each device. 3. Three of the mechanical methods: NMCD, MARM and MZIN demonstrated killing potential, as well as consistency in their anatomical effects, with device success rates of over 50% indicating that the devices performed optimally more than half of the time. NMCD had the highest killing potential, with 100% of birds sustaining the required physical trauma to have caused rapid death. 4. The MPLI was inconsistent, and only performed optimally for 27.5% of birds, despite good killing potential when performing well. Severe crushing injury was seen in >50% of MPLI birds, suggesting that birds would die of asphyxia rather than cerebral ischaemia, a major welfare concern. As a result, the modified pliers are not recommended as a humane on-farm killing device for chickens. 5. This experiment provides important data on the killing potential of untried novel percussive and mechanical cervical dislocation methods, informing future studies.
- Animal welfare
- Cervical dislocation