NSW Arbovirus Surveillance & Vector Monitoring Program
Chicken Bleeding Methods

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Items Required


  1. Label Vacutainer blood collection tubes and 2ml serum transport tubes with the number of the chicken from the leg band (these numbers are also on the "Bleed Record Sheets") and the collection date, Wing vein

  2. Attach winged infusion set to syringe (use only one syringe/needle per bird),

  3. Hold the chicken upside down with the wing extended to expose the wing vein (a few smallBleeding from the wing vein feathers may need to be removed),

  4. Swab the vein with a alcohol wipe, put the wipe aside for later,

  5. Insert the needle into the vein and remove max. 2mls of blood,

  6. Remove the needle. Insert the needle into the blood collection tubeBleeding the chicken (ensuring that the tube and the chicken are identically labelled) and mix immediately by gentle inversion to dissolve the anti-clotting agent. Allow the blood to flow into the tube. Do not force blood into tube. 

  7. Place pressure on the vein insertion site with the alcohol wipe (use cotton wool if necessary), until bleeding stops,

  8. To obtain plasma: Allowing the blood to flow into the tube

    i. centrifuge the tubes @ 3000rpm for 10minutes, or

    ii. leave the tubes overnight in the refrigerator in an upright position (the tubes do not need to be centrifuged then).

  9. Pipette off the plasma (ensuring that a fresh pipette is used for every chicken) and dispense into the serum transport tube (ensuring that the two tube labels correspond),

  10. .Send completed samples and "Bleed Record Sheets" to Westmead Hospital. 

   Dave Sanders setup for bleeding chickens at Griffith

Important Points

  • The blood from the syringe must be placed into the blood collection tubes immediately after being removed from the chicken, otherwise the blood will clot.

  • The blood in the blood collection tube must be mixed by gentle rocking as soon as the blood starts to flow into the blood collection tube. The tube must not be shaken hard as this will burst blood cells and render the sample useless.

  • If the blood coagulates in the tube, the sample is useless and another sample needs to be taken (the tubes contain an anticoagulant agent, hence the need for prompt mixing).

  • If it is necessary to take blood from the other wing, after attempting the first, then replace the syringe and infusion set, as any blood in the syringe will clot.

  • Do not attempt to take blood from a haematoma, this is likely to clot in the syringe, try the other wing.

  • After the collections have been made at the chicken site, keep all blood samples cool by placing into an esky with an icebrick, do not allow the icebrick to come into contact with the blood collection tubes as this can burst blood cells and render the sample useless.


1. Chicken bleeding: this video demonstrates David Sanders (from Griffith City Council), superb technique of bleeding a chicken (the file is 1MB in size, this will take up to 8minutes to download, depending on your connection speed).

2. Mixing of blood collection tubes: this shows how the blood collection tubes should be gently mixed (roughly 0.2MB in size, this will take up to 30seconds to download, depending on your connection speed).

For more information contact Linda Hueston 02 9845 7750

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