Help End the Use of Ventilation Shutdown to Depopulate Animals on Factory Farms
Sign the Veterinary Petition Now!

November 25, 2020 - One of the many tragedies of the COVID-19 crisis is that industrial animal agriculture has depopulated (killed) millions of animals on-farm, particularly chickens and pigs, due to supply chain disruptions. Since factory farms keep animals in intensive confinement and are designed for the continuous flow of new animals, when slaughterhouses close due to COVID-19 outbreaks, the farms quickly run out of room.

One particularly brutal method of depopulation that the industry has employed is called ventilation shutdown (VSD). To kill chickens and pigs using VSD, workers shut off barns’ ventilation systems with the animals sealed inside so the animals die from hyperthermia or suffocation. In some cases, additional heat or carbon dioxide (CO2) are added to promote death by hyperthermia and hypoxia (known as VSD+). This inhumane method of killing can take hours for all the animals to die, according to published research.

The 2019 AVMA Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals classify VSD/VSD+ as “permitted in constrained circumstances” for swine and poultry. The intention is for its use as a last resort in the most urgent situations and those involving severe infectious or zoonotic disease outbreaks among animals. However, the pork and poultry industries have interpreted the AVMA guidelines to justify its use with COVID-19 related backlogs where animals are perfectly healthy and it is more of a convenient and cost-saving measure.

Help End Ventilation Shutdown: Sign the Veterinary Petition by December 31st

A coalition of veterinary and animal welfare organizations have joined together to petition the AVMA to reclassify all forms of VSD as “not recommended” for depopulation in the depopulation guidelines. Classifying VSD/VSD+ as “not recommended” would help prevent livestock producers from taking advantage of AVMA’s position and from utilizing these inhumane techniques unnecessarily.

There are many preferred and conditionally recommended methods for animal depopulation listed in the AVMA and AASV Guidelines that may be used in an emergency. As noted in the depopulation guidelines, "Not recommended" methods should be considered only when the circumstances preclude the reasonable implementation of any of the preferred or permitted in constrained circumstances methods and when the risk of doing nothing is deemed likely to have a reasonable chance of resulting in significantly more animal suffering than that associated with the proposed depopulation technique.

Hundreds of veterinarians have already signed the petition to urge the AVMA to take a stand against this inhumane depopulation method. As rising COVID-19 rates threaten further disruptions and potential need for depopulating animals on farms, this effort is more important than ever.

Please join with your HSVMA colleagues to help end the use of VSD/VSD+ by signing the petition as soon as possible but no later than December 31st. And thank you for your consideration and concern for the animals.