Wood chippers not to be used to euthanatize poultry, AVMA says

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"Use of wood chippers has not been endorsed by the AVMA as an acceptable means of euthanasia for poultry." This statement is a response to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune that reported employees at two area poultry farms used wood chippers to dispose of some 30,000 live hens in February. The article erroneously stated that the AVMA approves of the method.

"It is absolutely absurd and ludicrous to believe that any veterinary medical association, especially an association that has for more than 140 years been the leading voice for humane and proper care of animals, could or would advocate throwing live chickens into a wood chipper as an appropriate method of euthanasia," said Dr. Bruce W. Little, AVMA executive vice president.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture denies that the veterinarian who was consulted is a USDA employee. The San Diego County district attorney initially decided against filing animal cruelty charges against the owners of Ward Egg Farm. But in April she reopened the case after receiving numerous complaints criticizing her decision not to press charges.

The owners of Ward Egg Farm claim that a veterinarian with the USDA had signed off on using wood chippers to destroy the hens. State quarantine rules enacted because of the outbreak of exotic Newcastle disease in Southern California prevented the hens from being transported to a slaughterhouse elsewhere in the state.

AVMA-sanctioned methods of euthanasia for poultry and other animals are detailed in the "2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia," available at www.avma.org/resources/euthanasia.pdf.