During the Symposium on managing outbreaks of Avian Influenza in Taiwan, the main subject was managing the outbreaks without breaching animal welfare during the culling operations. Although it seams impossible, this can be done using the Anoxia method (see also www.N2GF.com for more information), under the condition that the entire process is been taking into account: killing of animals, carcass disposal, transport & logistic, Occupational Health & Safety, environmental issues, pest control, contact between animals and humans: all these factors contribute to the risks of spreading. If one factor fails, the virus can escape and infect the next flock, making it needed to kill more birds. For that reason, all factors are equally important to maintain animal welfare during outbreak situations.
In a number of recently published studies, Professor Stegeman (University of Utrecht, Holland) explains that serologic spreading of viruses is related to human contacts with contaminated infected animals, carcasses, manure and materials infected/suspected animals; movements of farm labourers, products, equipment etc. Most of these contacts (and movements) take place prior, during, and after the culling procedure, whereas the quantity and the intensity of the contacts - thus this human contact/materials are decisive factors for the serologic spreading of viruses to enter farms and most likely play an important role in spreading between farms. Suspicion/infection of farm animals inevitably leads to preventive culling of all farm animals within the direct proximity. For that reason, the serologic spread of viruses has become a major animal welfare indicator that has to be taken into consideration as such.
Each culling procedure features its own unique contact pattern between animals and humans and is based on applied culling, disposal and transport technique. These contact patterns related to the specific combination of applied methods, defines the major contribution factors for spreading of infections. Therefore should the potential risks of these procedures be evaluated and rated on the art and the intensity of the potential contact between animals and humans/materials, prior, during and after the procedure.
Therefore, the entire procedure of killing, disposal and transportation is therefore considered as Major Interest, in terms of animal welfare.