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Slaughter of poultry during the epidemic of avian influenza in the Netherlands in 2003
  1. M. A. Gerritzen, Ing1,
  2. E. Lambooij, DVM1,
  3. J. A. Stegeman, DVM2 and
  4. B. M. Spruijt, DVM2
  1. 1 Animal Sciences Group, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Division of Nutrition and Food, PO Box 65, 8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands
  2. 2 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, PO Box 80157, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands


During an outbreak of avian influenza in the Netherlands in spring 2003, the disease was controlled by destroying all the poultry on the infected farms and on all the farms within a radius of 3 km. In total, 30 million birds were killed on 1242 farms and in more than 8000 hobby flocks, by using mobile containers filled with carbon dioxide, mobile electrocution lines and by gassing whole poultry houses with carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide. Observations of these methods were used to compare their effectiveness and capacity, and their effects on the welfare of the birds. Gassing whole poultry houses had a much greater capacity than mobile equipment, and catching live birds to bring them to a mobile killing device caused extra stress and could cause pain due to injuries inflicted when catching and handling them. Gassing whole poultry houses with carbon monoxide requires strict safety regulations and, therefore, gassing with carbon dioxide was considered preferable. However, this method is not suited to all types of housing, and in these circumstances mobile killing devices were a useful alternative.

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