As chickens may rapidly regain consciousness after gas stunning, the effects of a two minute exposure to a carbon dioxide-argon mixture on survival rate were investigated. Broilers were stunned in batches of 10 per transport crate with a mixture of 10, 20 or 30 per cent carbon dioxide in argon with 5 per cent residual oxygen. The birds were exposed to the gaseous atmosphere for two minutes. A control group of birds was electrically stunned (120 mA for four seconds; 50Hz sinusoidal waveform). In addition, the incidence of carcase downgrading conditions after stunning with 20 per cent or 30 per cent carbon dioxide in argon with 5 per cent residual oxygen was compared with the incidence after electrical stunning. The results showed that stunning with 10 and 20 per cent carbon dioxide in argon with 5 per cent residual oxygen resulted in survival rates of 24 and 1 per cent, respectively. Stunning with 30 per cent carbon dioxide in argon with 5 per cent residual oxygen resulted in the death of all the broilers. Electrical stunning resulted in a significantly (P less than 0.001) larger number of broilers with breast muscle haemorrhaging and broken furculum and coracoid bones, whereas stunning with gas mixtures resulted in a significantly (P less than 0.001) higher incidence of broilers with damaged wing bones. Electrical stunning of broilers resulted in a significantly higher pH in the breast muscles 20 minutes post mortem than stunning with carbon dioxide-argon mixtures.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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