Evaluation of stunning/killing methods for quail (Coturnix japonica): bird welfare and carcase quality
1. The welfare and carcase quality implications of stunning/killing 7-week-old Japanese quail with either an electric current, 90% argon in air or a mixture of 30% carbon dioxide and 60% argon in air were investigated in 3 separate experiments. 2. The results showed that exposure of quail to either argon or the carbon dioxide-argon mixture resulted in loss of posture on average at 9 and 8 s respectively. In both gas mixtures, convulsions started 6 s after the loss of posture and the duration of clonic phase (wing flapping) did not differ significantly between the 2 gas mixtures. However, the duration of the tonic phase was found to be slightly longer with the carbon dioxideargon mixture than with argon alone (P <0.05). 3. The absence of a positive response to toe pinching performed soon after the loss of posture indicated that the birds became unconscious and insensible to pain before the onset of convulsions. 4. Carcase dissection showed that, in comparison with the electrical stunning, gas stunning/killing of quail in transport containers eliminated the problem of broken bones and significantly reduced haemorrhaging in breast and leg muscles.
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