OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — When cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or bird flu, are found on poultry farms, officials act quickly to slaughter all the birds in that flock even when it numbers in the millions, but animal welfare groups say their methods are inhumane.
USDA officials defend their methods as the most humane options available under the circumstances. The goal is to kill all of the birds within 24 hours to limit the spread of avian influenza and prevent them from suffering with the disease.
The methods used to do that include spraying birds with firefighting foam to cut off their air supply, piping carbon dioxide into their barns or in some cases shutting down a barn's ventilation system and allowing the temperature to raise high enough to kill the birds inside.