Organic poultry farming is the most responsively production system to produce healthy, good quality poultry meat and eggs in an ecologically way. It’s designed to avoid the need for agrochemicals and to minimize damage to the environment and wildlife.
Still, also organic poultry production is not free from the danger becoming infected by contagious diseases, like the current H5N2 outbreak in Canada and the USA.
All currently commercially available depopulation techniques focus on stamping out the virus, in an attempt to stop the spreading, not on maintaining animal welfare standards: methods like macerating birds alive; using CO2 in containers or throughout the entire poultry house; by electrocution; or by occlusion of the trachea with firefighting foam. This makes these techniques irreconcilable with the principle of organic farming, because the culling process with he current methods leave little room for the animal’s welfare rights in the last day of its existence.
Since June 2015, a new sensible culling technique is commercially available that serves both the goal to bring an outbreak to a stop and to maintain a high level of animal welfare during the process of culling for disease control purposes.
The Anoxia method is the most humane method to euthanize animals that are in severe pain or suffer severely seems to be the use of nitrogen gas foam. By this method the animals will be unconscious within a short time through an abundance of nitrogen. The animals die in a short time, without regaining consciousness.
The method of nitrogen gas foam uses a barrel, filled up with a layer of high expansion foam (big bubbles) completely filled with pure nitrogen. The animal will be placed in the foam and covered with a layer of foam of at least 60 centimetres. The animal will breathe 98 per cent nitrogen. The amount of oxygen in the blood diminishes very quickly and the animal will very soon be unconscious. Because of the extreme oxygen deficiency (anoxia) the animal dies within one and a half to two minutes. The animal will not regain consciousness and won’t notice that it dies.
The animal will be unaware that it breathes in pure nitrogen and it will not be harmful or painful for the animal because the normal air an animal breathes consists already of 78 per cent nitrogen. Inhalation of nitrogen is therefore not stressful, whereas for example with high concentrations of carbon dioxide the animal will try not to breathe.
The Anoxia method is not physically demanding on the farmer and his employees. The animals almost instantly lose consciousness after being dipped through the foam. Fixation of the animal to avoid them to hurt themselves during stunning is not needed, as necessary in most other methods. Because of the thick nitrogen foam layer and the amount of 98 per cent nitrogen it is certain that the animal will die. The chance that the method fails and the animal regain consciousness and won’t die, are next to zero.