Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach (2nd Edition)

Edited by Dr. Temple Grandin
Colorado State University, USA

ISBN: 978-1-78064-467-7
c. 368 pages
131 figures/illustrations

Subject Classifcation: KNAC, PSVP, TVH, TW
Territorial Market Rights: World
Published by CABI

Links for ordering:


Chapter 10: Recommended on-farm euthanasia practices.

by Jennifer Woods, Jan K. Shearer, and Jeff Hill, Woods Livestock Services, Alberta, Canada and Iowa State University, USA

The first part of this chapter discusses the conditions where euthanasia is inidicated and the second half coveres the use of gunshot, captive bolt, confirmation of death, and disposal o fthe carcass. Clear diagrams showing the correct shooting positions for cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, and deer are included in this chapter.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 10...

On-farm management of euthanasia Management will often set the tone for the attitude of the stock people. Managers must have a proactive approach to all aspects of animal welfare and demand the same attitude from the staff. A stockperson with a good attitude is essential to ensure proper handling and euthanasia procedures on the farm Research has revealed sequential relationships between the attitudes of the stockperson towards the animals, the behavior of the stockperson with the animals, the behavioral response of animals to humans (i.e. fear) and the overall performance and welfare of the animal (see Chapter 4).

When hiring or selecting employees for positions that include euthanasia, it must be ensured that the person is comfortable performing the expected task. It is detrimental to employee morale, safety and animal welfare to force people to perform euthanasia who are not comfortable or competent with the procedure. People may be comfortable performing euthanasia, but they may not be comfortable with the modes of euthanasia used within your operation (i.e. blunt force trauma). This must be discussed before they are expected to euthanize animals. Company policy must be clearly posted and there must be an alternative plan for those people uncomfortable with the designated euthanasia process, as euthanasia must be available 24h a day.

It is also managementís responsibility to ensure that stock people are trained in euthanasia. Research has shown that the amount and type of euthanasia training a stockperson receives influences their attitude. When people are provided with comprehensive training that covers all aspects of euthanasia, they will often become more comfortable with the procedures and have a better attitude towards euthanasia (Matthis, 2004; Reeve et al., 2004).

Training not only gives them the skill to perform the act, but also the confidence to make timely decisions on when to euthanize an animal. Management can also alleviate much of the strain on their stock people by rotating the euthanasia task throughout the staff, especially in operations where euthanasia is a regular part of the routine. Managers must keep the lines of communication open with employees and note any changes in behavior, attitude, frequency of sick days, etc. Support should be provided for employees who request it or appear to need it. This support network should include open lines of communication, task rotation when requested and counseling if required. Management of euthanasia requires effective farm management. Grandin (1988) observed that the farms or slaughter plants that had the best stunning and animal handling practices had a manager who was involved enough to care, but not so involved that he becomes desensitized. The diagrams illustrate the correct positions for euthanizing animals with either a firearm or captive bolt.

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