New Device Invented to Humanely Kill Chickens

UK - A PhD student has created a 'neck dislocation glove' which aims to make chicken slaughter more humane.
calendar icon 14 June 2016
clock icon 3 minute read

Dr Jessica Martin, the winner of the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) Centenary Research Training Scholarship (RTS) in 2011, has graduated from the University of Glasgow with her PhD research which aimed to design a mechanical device to humanely kill chickens on-farm.

Each year, billions of poultry worldwide may need to be killed on-farm if birds are sick or injured or for small-scale slaughter. Since January 2013, in Europe, the use of manual cervical dislocation (MCD) as a killing method for poultry has been restricted by Council Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing.

Dr Martin, who jointly studied at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in Ayr, designed and prototyped four mechanical devices (complying with the new EU Regulation 1099/2009), including a novel mechanical cervical dislocation glove, as a humane alternative to manual cervical dislocation for killing chickens.

The devices were tested for their reliability and welfare impact using post-mortems, reflexes and behaviour, and brain activity analysis.

The glove showed promise in optimising the cervical dislocation process and reducing the time to brain death, as well as reducing inconsistencies seen in manual applications. Dr Martin is currently investigating how to produce it commercially as a competitive replacement for MCD.

The study also highlighted the need for refinement of the glove training protocol, to allow for the wide variation in poultry keepers’ MCD techniques and experience.

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