On most poultry farms, including those in the Netherlands and Belgium, sick, injured, crippled or weakened birds are killed through a procedure known as “cervical dislocation,” colloquially referred to as “breaking the neck.” It is often claimed that this method causes the animal to be “instantly gone,” but this is incorrect. During cervical dislocation, the spinal cord (and surrounding tissues, including nerves, muscles and arteries) of a living and fully sentient bird are being traumatized, resulting in a significant amount of pain. The pain likely remains until the bird falls unconscious. The duration of this is debated, but it is estimated to be several to tens of seconds. As cervical dislocation is very painful, it is no longer allowed in Germany unless the bird is first rendered unconscious. The bird first receives a blow to the head with the purpose of the animal losing consciousness immediately. Only then is cervical dislocation performed to kill the animal. In the European Union, pre-stunning for cervical dislocation is also required for laboratory animals weighing over 250 grams.
Every poultry farmer regularly encounters sick, injured, crippled or severely weakened birds, and it is essential to alleviate their suffering promptly if they cannot be medically treated. However, Eyes on Animals finds it unacceptable that these animals, that already feel horrible, are lifted by their legs, held upside down and are than subjected to the painful killing method of cervical dislocation. We hope that poultry farmers in other countries aside from Germany, such as the Netherlands, will follow Germany’s example by making pre-stunning mandatory. There are increasingly better stunners available on the market that enable poultry to be humanely killed on the spot, such as mobile electric stunners and captive bolt devices. Ideally, a stunner should be mobile (so that sick, injured, or weakened birds don’t need to be moved), silent (so as not to startle other chickens), and easy to use.
Here is a list of stunners that we have had positive experiences with or heard positive stories about from experts. When purchasing a manual stunner, it is crucial to opt for quality and not cheap replicas.
Manual Electric Stunners:
- H2H: https://www.top-equipment.nl/h2h-euthanizer/.This method both stuns and kills because the electrical current passes through both the head and the heart. Via a railing system, the stunner can be moved throughout the barn, so birds can be stunned on the spot.
- Federleicht: http://www.federleichtgmbh.de/. Crucial parameters such as amperage, voltage, and resistance (Ohms) are clearly displayed. The stunner can also be used for turkeys with an additional device.
- Westerhoff Geflügeltechniek: https://www.gefluegeltechnik.com/produkt/btg/
Captive Bolt Devices (Without Cartridges):
- Zephyr Device: http://www.bock-industries.com/zephyr.html
- Ted Device (This device is portable): http://www.bock-industries.com/ted.html
Nitrogen Foam Stunning:
- Anoxia Box: https://heftinternational.com/on-farm