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Low atmospheric pressure stunning (LAPS) is a new method of inducing unconsciousness (i.e. stunning) poultry prior to slaughter, where birds are placed in a sealed chamber, and the atmospheric pressure is reduced using controlled slow decompression with a vacuum pump. This results in non-recoverable unconsciousness.
Research suggests that LAPS may offer a more humane, and potentially painless, method of stunning if decompression occurs at a rate at which the body cavities can adjust (i.e. no air is trapped within the body cavities).
Potential benefits of LAPS for bird welfare include:
To date, not enough research has been conducted to determine whether LAPS does in fact offer a painless method of stunning for poultry, and it is not approved for use in the European Union, or by the American Veterinary Medical Association for this reason.
Although it appears that birds perform similar behaviours during LAPS stunning as they do during gas stunning (an accepted method of stunning), the LAPS takes a longer period of time to induce unconsciousness, and more research is required to:
Low atmospheric pressure stunning may offer welfare benefits over other systems of stunning. However, more research is required in order to determine the full effect on birds’ welfare.
 Vizzier-Thaxton Y, Christensen KD, Schilling MW et al (2010) A new humane method of stunning broilers using low atmospheric pressure. J Appl Poult Res 19:341-348.
 EFSA AHAW Panel (EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare) (2014) Scientific Opinion on the use of low atmosphere pressure system (LAPS) for stunning poultry. EFSA J 12:3488, 27
 Smith DC (1965) Methods of euthanasia and disposal of laboratory animals. In: Gay WI (ed) Methods of animal experimentation, Vol. 1. Academic Press, New York.
 Leary S, Underwood W, Anthony R et al (2013) AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2013 Edition.
 Mackie N, McKeegan DEF (2016) Behavioural responses of broiler chickens during low atmospheric pressure stunning. Appl Anim Behav Sci 174:90-98.