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Evaluation of Two Models of Non-Penetrating Captive Bolt Devices for On-Farm Euthanasia of Turkeys

Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
The Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
Department of Pathobiology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A8, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2018, 8(3), 42;
Received: 27 February 2018 / Revised: 14 March 2018 / Accepted: 18 March 2018 / Published: 20 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humane Killing and Euthanasia of Animals on Farms)
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On-farm euthanasia is a critical welfare issue in the poultry industry and can be particularly difficult to perform on mature turkeys due to their size. We evaluated the efficacy of two commercially available non-penetrating captive bolt devices, the Zephyr-EXL and the Turkey Euthanasia Device (TED), on 253 turkeys at three stages of production: 4–5, 10, and 15–20 weeks of age. Effectiveness of each device was measured using both ante- and post-mortem measures. Application of the Zephyr-EXL resulted in a greater success rate (immediate abolishment of brainstem reflexes) compared to the TED (97.6% vs. 89.3%, p = 0.0145). Times to last movement (p = 0.102) and cardiac arrest (p = 0.164) did not differ between devices. Ante- and post-mortem measures of trauma and hemorrhage were highly correlated. Skull fractures and gross subdural hemorrhage (SDH) were present in 100% of birds euthanized with both the Zephyr-EXL and TED devices. Gross SDH scores were greater in birds killed with the Zephyr-EXL than the TED (p < 0.001). Microscopic SDH scores indicated moderate to severe hemorrhage in 92% of turkeys for the Zephyr-EXL and 96% of turkeys for the TED, with no difference between devices (p = 0.844). Overall, both devices were highly effective inducing immediate insensibility through traumatic brain injury and are reliable, single-step methods for on-farm euthanasia of turkeys. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; euthanasia; turkey; insensibility; brain death animal welfare; euthanasia; turkey; insensibility; brain death

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Woolcott, C.R.; Torrey, S.; Turner, P.V.; Serpa, L.; Schwean-Lardner, K.; Widowski, T.M. Evaluation of Two Models of Non-Penetrating Captive Bolt Devices for On-Farm Euthanasia of Turkeys. Animals 2018, 8, 42.

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