The three key response goals for any disease outbreak are to: (1) detect, control, and contain the disease in animals as quickly as possible; (2) eradicate the disease using strategies that seek to stabilize animal agriculture, the food supply, the economy, and to protect public health and the environment; and (3) provide science,  risk-based approaches, and systems to facilitate continuity of business for noninfected animals and non-contaminated animal products (NAHEMS, 2015).


While prevention and bio-exclusion of disease is everyone’s goal, there is no doubt that depopulation is a necessary and effective means of response to protect the livestock industry and meat supply. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) defines depopulation as the rapid destruction of a population of animals in response to urgent circumstances with as much consideration given to the welfare of the animals as practicable (2019). According to the National Animal Health Emergency Management System (NAHEMS) the goals of depopulation are to (a) provide humane treatment of animals at all times until they are culled; (b) select and use an acceptable form of depopulation to be executed as quickly, efficiently, and humanely as possible; (c) minimize the negative emotional and psychological impact on animal owners, caretakers, and the public; (d) prevent adulterated or potentially adulterated meat products from entering the food chain; and (e) prevent or mitigate disease spread within the country.

The use of inert gasses for euthanasia, slaughter, and as a depopulation method for livestock has been extensively studied.  Death from exposure to inert gassing is considered the most humane method for euthanasia and mass depopulation currently available, however, inert gases have not traditionally been used due to the difficulties in managing the gas concentrations as required to adequately eliminate oxygen (<2%).  

High expansion nitrogen foam surrounds the animal in large bubbles filled with nitrogen, this creates pockets of nitrogen gas around the animal thereby displacing all the available oxygen. This ensures no oxygen is available for the animal to breathe, causing death by anoxia due to exposure to the inert gas ( nitrogen). 

High-expansion nitrogen foam has been demonstrated effective, efficient, and humane for poultry and swine.  There are also ongoing efforts to use this technology for cattle, small ruminants, and other livestock species.

Agricultural Emergency Services Inc. (AES Inc.), led by Dan Hougentogler, continues to develop nitrogen foaming technology for the depopulation of livestock in North America.  The AES Inc. system is designed to require minimal maintenance and be rapidly deployed.  It is much simpler than any nitrogen foam system (NFS) on the market and utilizes components readily available in the North American marketplace.  It relies on proven designs, equipment, and systems utilized on fire trucks and emergency response vehicles. The AES Inc. system does not include any fancy electronics, electronic control valving or specialized parts that are prone to fail during emergency responses.

The system is very efficient ( regarding gas and water use), user-friendly, robust, and cost-effective.  It is currently available for the depopulation of swine and we anticipate the provision of an integrated reel unit for the rapid depopulation of floor-reared poultry in the near future.  

Currently being developed with a target date of Spring 2023.

For information on how we can help you please contact us.

Agricultural Emergency Services Inc.

PO Box 7223

Newark De 19714