Euthanasia planning isn’t something anyone wants to think about, but it is essential and should be developed with a veterinarian to ensure a proper plan. Euthanasia needs to take place in a timely manner with minimal pain, distress, and fear – letting the pig suffer and “letting nature take its course” is unacceptable. Properly disposing of deadstock in a timely and appropriate manner will limit the number of scavengers around your farm. Deadstock can represent a source of pathogenic agents which can infect your pigs in addition to other farms, placing the health and safety of your pigs at risk.
Typical guidelines suggest that pigs should show a significant improvement 24 to 48 hours after treatment if recovery is likely. If improvement is not observed in 48 hours, euthanasia is the often the most humane option.
- Assign a skilled person to perform the euthanasia.
- Learn how to perform euthanasia from an experienced, skilled person (e.g. veterinarian).
- Determine the most acceptable method for the age and size of the pig.
- For guidelines on appropriate methods of euthanasia, refer to Appendix N in the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs.
- Firearms and captive bolt guns are common and acceptable methods.
- If using a firearm, pigs up to market weight require 300 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Adult pigs (sows and boars) require 1,000 foot-pounds. Ensure all firearm regulations are met for your province.
- If using a captive bolt, it is best to snare the pig to keep its head steady. Using a chute or a pig snare, with assistance, can be used to accomplish this.
- Recognize the conditions when a pig is experiencing distress, pain, or suffering.
- Establish guidelines (with your veterinarian) of when and how to euthanize.
- If pigs cannot be moved from their current position without causing them pain and suffering, euthanize them in their current location.
- To prevent prolonged pain and suffering when recovery is unlikely.
- Choose the appropriate restraint, euthanasia method, and method to confirm unconsciousness and death.
- Ensure euthanasia equipment is properly maintained and cleaned.
- Wear hearing protection (e.g. ear plugs) during the process.
- Euthanasia training materials are available through your provincial pork organization.