Effects of light on responses to Low Atmospheric Pressure Stunning in Broilers

Jessica Martin, Karen Christensen, Yvonne Vizzier-Thaxton, Dorothy McKeegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

1. Low Atmospheric Pressure Stunning (LAPS) is a novel approach to poultry stunning involving the application of gradual decompression lasting 280 s according to a prescribed pressure curve. 2. The aim of this study was to determine how behavioural, electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) responses to LAPS are influenced by illumination of the decompression chamber. A secondary aim was to examine responses to the decompression chamber without LAPS being applied, as such a 'sham' control has been absent in previous studies. 3. A two by two factorial design was employed, with LAPS/light, LAPS/dark, sham/light and sham/dark treatments (N=20 per treatment). Broilers were exposed to each treatment in pairs, in each of which one bird was instrumented for recording EEG and ECG. Illumination was applied at 500 lx and in sham treatments birds were identically handled but remained undisturbed in the LAPS chamber without decompression for 280 s. 4. Birds which underwent the sham treatment exhibited behaviours which were also observed in LAPS (e.g. sitting) while those exposed to LAPS exhibited hypoxia related behaviours (e.g. ataxia, loss of posture). Behavioural latencies and durations were increased in the sham treatments, since the whole cycle time was available (in LAPS; birds were motionless by 186 s). 5. Within the sham treatments, illumination increased active behaviour and darkness induced sleep, but slow-wave EEG was seen in both. The pattern of EEG response to LAPS (steep reduction in median frequency in the first 60 s and increased total power) was similar, irrespective of illumination, though birds in darkness had shorter latencies to loss of consciousness and isoelectric EEG. Cardiac responses to LAPS (pronounced bradycardia) closely matched those reported previously and were not affected by illumination. 6. The effects of LAPS/sham treatment primarily reflected the presence/absence of hypoxia, while illumination affected activity/sleep levels in sham treated birds and slowed time to unconsciousness in birds undergoing LAPS. Therefore it is recommended that LAPS be conducted in darkness for poultry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-600
JournalBritish Poultry Science
Issue number5
Early online date28 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2020


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