December 12, 2012, Manitoba Agriculture News.

Research conducted by the University of Manitoba has shown nitrogen to be a more practical alternative for mass euthanasia of swine than carbon dioxide.

The University of Manitoba in partnership with the Canadian Swine Health Board, Manitoba Pork Council and Manitoba Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives is developing a mobile mass euthanasia system for swine and poultry.

Phase one of the project, which started about a year ago, was to design and test a pilot system and phase two is to design a full sized system.

Dr. Qiang Zhang, a professor in Biosystems Engineering with the University of Manitoba, says the pilot system has been tested, it worked well and the next step, once funding has been secured, will be to develop the full size system.

The current method of euthanasia is CO2.

If you actually use CO2 basically you have to truck in CO2 in bottles from elsewhere to take it to the site, say on a farm.

Our system actually uses nitrogen, basically uses pure nitrogen to reduce the oxygen to two percent or lower level so that should actually euthanize any animal.

The reason why we’re using nitrogen is because, first nitrogen is abundant in the air.

We actually will be looking at an on-site nitrogen generation system to produce our own nitrogen right on the spot.

The advantage of that is if you have a large outbreak of disease and if you use the current method of CO2 then there’s simply not enough CO2 supply actually in the province.

Nitrogen, you’re facing the same problem,

Where do you get the large quantity of nitrogen.

Our system actually will avoid that problem by generating our own nitrogen on site.

Dr. Zhang says, when using carbon dioxide for euthanasia was to compared to using nitrogen, nitrogen scored much better than carbon dioxide from an animal welfare perspective but in terms of public perception the two were pretty much equal.

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