Evaluation of the potential killing performance of novel percussive and cervical dislocation tools in chicken cadavers

Jessica Martin, Dorothy E. F. McKeegan, Julian Sparrey, Victoria Sandilands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1.Four mechanical poultry killing devices; modified Armadillo® (MARM), modified Rabbit ZingerTM (MZIN), modified pliers (MPLI) and a novel mechanical cervical dislocation gloved device (NMCD), were assessed for their killing potential in chicken the cadavers of euthanised, of four bird type and age combinations: layer/adult, layer/pullet, broiler/slaughter-age, broiler/chick.

2.A 4x4x4 factorial design (batch x device x bird type + age) was employed. Ten bird cadavers per bird type and age were tested with each of the four mechanical devices (N = 160 birds). All cadavers were examined post-mortem to establish the anatomical damage caused by each device.

3.Three of the mechanical methods: NMCD, MARM and MZIN demonstrated killing potential, as well as consistency in their anatomical effects, with device success rates of over 50% indicating that the devices performed optimally more than half of the time. NMCD had the highest killing potential, with 100% of birds sustaining the required physical trauma to have caused rapid death.

4.The MPLI was inconsistent, and only performed optimally for 27.5% of birds, despite good killing potential when performing well. Severe crushing injury was seen in >50% of MPLI birds, suggesting that birds would die of asphyxia rather than cerebral ischemia, a major welfare concern. As a result the modified pliers are not recommended as a humane on-farm killing device for chickens.5.This experiment provides important data on the killing potential of untried novel percussive and mechanical cervical dislocation methods, informing future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-223
JournalBritish Poultry Science
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jan 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2017


  • Killing
  • poultry
  • cervical dislocation
  • percussive
  • post-mortem
  • animal welfare

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