The American Humane Association has approved a new form of stunning for broiler chickens which mimics a high altitude environment to render the birds irreversibly unconscious.

Poultry company TechnoCatch LLC developed the technology in partnership with OK Foods Inc. and Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, PhD, from the Mississippi State University who conducted research into the technique.

In July the Dr Thaxton’s findings were submitted to the American Humane Association’s Farm Animal Welfare Scientific Advisory Committee, reviewed, and in early September approved for use under the American Humane Certified label.

The USDA has also said they have no issue with the technique and it will start to be used by Ok Foods Inc in slaughter.

Unlike other gas-related techniques “LAPS” does not introduce any other substances such as carbon dioxide, argon or nitrogen but simply reduced the amount of available oxygen in the air, similar to flying to high altitude or climbing a mountain.

Dr Mark Cooper, senior scientific manager with the RSPCA, said the organisation supported increased welfare for birds at slaughter but couldn’t specifically support LAPS as they haven’t conducted their own tests.

“We are in favour of systems which don’t involved the shackling or immersion of conscious birds, if that system overcomes those issues and it offers a more humane alternative to conventional water bath we would welcome it.”

Research into LAPS will be published this winter in the Journal of Applied Poultry Research.