Euthanasia and Handling of Dead Stock
Have you ever experienced the following scenario or a similar scenario? You’ve come to the realization that the animal that has been down for a week isn’t going to recover and her health is worsening and she needs to be euthanized. What do you do? What do you do with the carcass when you are finished?
If you have written protocols for such scenarios, you may already know how to handle the situation. Protocols, however, occasionally need updating and you should discuss this scenario with your veterinarian and update any employees that this protocol pertains with any changes. Whether you have a protocol in place or not, you should know that there are different options available for euthanizing an animal and disposing of them.
Humane euthanasia can be accomplished either through gun shot, penetrating captive bolt, or chemical euthanasia. These are considered primary forms of humane euthanasia and each has its pros and cons.
Pros: Inexpensive, doesn’t require close contact with animal and may require only minimal restraint
Cons: Requires someone experienced and trained with firearms, requires a legal firearm of appropriate sized caliber, can be harmful to user and others in the area, requires training for accurate placement of shot
Penetrating Captive Bolt:
Pros: Less harmful to the user than a firearm
Cons: Requires some restraint and may require some sedation, requires accurate placement of the captive bolt on the head, requires additional euthanasia techniques to insure complete death
Pros: No use of a weapon
Cons: more costly due to the type and amount of drugs used, requires administration by a veterinarian, euthanized animals require special handling as carcass is not suitable for human or animal consumption
The AVMA and AABP have specific guidelines for humane euthanasia of animals that, along with a discussion with your veterinarian, can help you develop a protocol for determining when the best time is to euthanize an animal and what methods would be most effective and practical for your farm.
Once you have a dead animal, whether it is one that was euthanized for health reasons or one that was found dead unexpectedly on the farm, now you must determine the best method for disposing of the animal(s). Most rendering plants will not accept animals that have been euthanized using chemicals because, as mentioned earlier, the carcass is no longer safe for human or animal consumption. In this case, the only proper disposal methods are deep burial (deep enough that wildlife will not be able to access the carcass, preferably about six feet), or incinerated. For those animals that were not chemically euthanized, you can dispose of the carcass via burial, composting or rendering. There are two rendering companies available in Southwestern Wisconsin, Darling International (1-800-362-2917) and a new company out of Montello, WI C&K Stock Removal, LLC (608-697-7108 or 608-697-9578). At the time of the writing of this newsletter, Darling charges $50/head for animals 30 months of age and older and $40/head for animals 30 months of age and younger, and C&K charges $40. Contact them as needed to schedule a pick up.
You can also discuss proper disposal methods with your veterinarian to appropriately accompany your euthanasia protocols. Humane and timely euthanasia, as well as timely, appropriate disposal of dead stock, is an important aspect to be discussed as it protects against accidental, unwanted death or injury of other animals and people and sheds a positive light to consumers that you not only care for the health of all animals on your farm, but those off of it as well.