US poultry farmers are facing growing opposition to the cruel cull methods being used to ‘de-populate’ poultry numbers as avian flu spreads through the country.

Over the past month, the United States Department of Agriculture has confirmed that highly pathogenic avian influenza is present in multiple locations across several different states. This has meant that US farmers face killing millions of birds, potentially using methods that would be illegal in the EU and UK.

One method is to cover the birds in firefighting foam to suffocate them, which is not only illegal under European law, it is not recognised as a method for culling animals for disease control by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

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Another of the mass culling methods is ventilation shutdown, which has already been deployed to deal with a backlog of birds during abattoir closures caused by Covid-19 staff shortages. This involves birds packed into sealed barns dying of high heat and steam – again illegal under EU and UK guidelines.

Members of the American Veterinary Medical Association have raised the issue with their House Delegates, asking for such cull methods to be classified as 'not recommended'.