Lambooij: On-farm euthanasia of sick or injured livestock (2010)

Read the entire report: Doden van wrakke beesten op het bedrijf

Sick and/or injured farm animals pose a problem because it is forbidden to transport both categories of animals live to the slaughterhouse. This means they must be killed on site. All healthy animals that are injured through an accident can still be approved for human consumption by a vet. In order to limit unnecessary suffering the farmer is lawfully permitted to use a penetrating captive bolt for euthanasia of pigs, cattle, sheep and goats. However, this is an aesthetically displeasing method to most farmers. Alternative methods have been investigated from the point of view of a humane death.

Dutch ministry for agriculture, nature management and food safety (LNV) has commissioned this review of the available options to farmers for on-farm euthanasia of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats without the intervention of a veterinarian.

In this report a number of euthanasia methods for sick and/or injured animals are discussed and evaluated. The euthanasia methods included are physical and electrical methods, (mix of) gas, lethal substances and new (experimental) methods. These methods are evaluated in relation to: animal welfare, effectiveness, efficiency, aesthetic consideration of the operator (farmer), skills required, risks and restrictions.

The penetrating captive bolt in combination with exsanguination or insertion of a pithing rod (c. 15cm) into the cavity is the most effective and efficient of the physical methods used on pigs, cattle, sheep and goats. Pithing is not allowed for animals entering the human consumption chain and therefore only acceptable for animals that are to be destroyed. In addition, emotional stress can pose a difficult restraint on those performing the act. This can be due to physical contact with the animal and the force of impact on the skull of the animal. This method can be difficult to execute with active and larger animals and animals should be adequately restrained. It is not recommended for young animals and can be ineffective in adult pigs.

Electrocution is the major electrical method applicable. It is a humane, effective and efficient method. Disadvantages include violent tonic muscle cramps which are aesthetically displeasing. A recent development for on-farm electrocution has been the introduction of the SPEE mobile unit.

Use of CO2 is the most suitable gaseous method. This method results in rapid unconsciousness, is analgesic and anesthetic. The gas is inexpensive and dosage is exact. Furthermore, it is non- flammable, non-explosive, and poses minimal hazard to personnel when used with properly designed equipment. However, there are problems with the CO2-method which are: that CO2 is heavier than air, incomplete filling of a chamber may permit animals to climb or raise their heads above the higher concentrations and avoid exposure, high concentrations of CO2 are distressful to the animals due to irritation of the mucous membranes and eyes. Use with cattle and small ruminants would seem possible but as yet to be verified.

Injection of lethal solvents is the most reliable method of performing euthanasia. However this method is not suitable for on-farm application. This method requires supervision by a veterinary surgeon and in practice often results in an unnecessary delay leading to a prolongation of the suffering of the sick or injured animal.

Use of water or CO2 enriched foam is a relatively new method with potential. At present research in America involves large groups of poultry and one study involving piglets. Further research will have to be performed on larger and differing types of animals in variable types of containers. The foam method scores impressively well on animal welfare, effectiveness, efficiency, aesthetic acceptance, skill requirements and safety of operation.

Conclusions:
Pigs:
Live weight up to 25 kg: Captive bolt accompanied by exsanguination (or insertion of a pithing rod for those animal to be destroyed) is the preferred method, an adequate restraining method and the emotional stress of the operator present problems for popularity of this method. Research into a safe and user friendly electrocution method is recommended.
Live weight above 25 kg: Euthanasia with a captive bolt in combination with exsanguination (or a pithing rod for those animals to be destroyed) is the preferred method. Under correct restraining

conditions and with due consideration of user safety, electrocution is also acceptable. Carbon dioxide and foam are potential alternatives for on-farm usage.

Cattle:
Generally speaking, use of the captive bolt method combined with exsanguination (or for destruction animals insertion of a pithing rod with plug to prevent spilling of cranial tissues) or gunshot (under permit) are the only practical methods without intervention of a veterinarian. Electrocution is effective but is a difficult and potentially dangerous method to perform on larger (dairy and beef cattle) species. Special attention should be given to the euthanasia of calves and bulls. The captive bolt method and use of barbiturates (veterinary assistance) are acceptable methods for both calves and bulls. Euthanasia of bulls can be difficult due to their size and the thickness of their skull.

Sheep and goats:
Use of a captive bolt (or gunshot) or concussion accompanied by exsanguination (or insertion of a pithing rod for animals to be destroyed) are the approved methods for on-farm euthanasia of sick or injured sheep and goats.

General
Treatment of injured or sick animals is strongly influenced by legislature and economics.
Use of a captive bolt accompanied by exsanguination (or insertion of a pithing rod for animals to be destroyed), electrocution and carbon dioxide are accepted methods for on-farm euthanasia without intervention of a veterinarian.
Use of barbiturates always requires veterinary assistance.
Although nitrogen and argon are effective methods there are more welfare friendly methods. Use of foam is potentially welfare friendlier. However, there is little information available concerning the use of foam for the euthanasia of pigs, cattle and small ruminants.

A rapid response is essential to animal welfare when choosing an acceptable method of euthanasia. The choice to involve a veterinarian is also important and has consequences for animal welfare. The extra fees involved greatly influence the choice of the farmer together with any personal aversion towards killing animals. However, euthanasia methods performed by a veterinarian are welfare friendly and more aesthetically acceptable to the farmer. It is suggested to investigate the possibilities for financial compensation for additional costs of on-farm euthanasia with veterinary assistance. This to help those farmers with aesthetical problems regarding the performance of certain methods of euthanasia and to reduce animal suffering.

Recommendations:
Further research and development of a practical, effective, efficient and safe method for on-farm euthanasia is essential.

  •  Further development of a plug or cap (preferably made of biodegradable material) for pithing ofcattle.
  •  Further research into the effective combinations of CO2 and O2 is required for pigs (25 tot 115 kg).
  •  Further research should be performed into foam as an alternative to CO2 for pigs. Present resultsindicate that foam is potentially less discomforting to the animal than the CO2-method.
  •  Research and development of a CO2 method for usage by all species on-farm.
  •  Additional attention should be given to operational safety when using the CO2-method in confinedspaces alongside measurement and control of mixtures of CO2/O2 and a correct level of humidity.
  •  Research and development of a safe, handy, effective and efficient on-farm euthanasia methodSimilar to the SPEE mobile unit recently developed in Canada.
  •  Improvement of equipment for restraining animals when using a captive bolt.
  •  Research and development of a method of collection and disposal of blood.
  •  Research and development of a handy and safe method for foam euthanasia on-farm. Possiblyusing a flexible on-farm system with PVC (disposable?) sheeting for use on individual animals ofall size.
  •  Investigation of the possibilities for financial compensation of farmers for veterinary assistancewith on-farm euthanasia of sick or injured animals.

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Lambooij: Euthanasie van wrakke dieren op het bedrijf (2010)

Read full report: Doden van wrakke beesten op het bedrijf

Wrakke dieren op het primaire bedrijf is een probleem omdat meer dan licht zieke dieren niet meer levend mogen worden afgevoerd naar het slachthuis. Alleen gezonde dieren die wrak zijn geworden door een ongeval kunnen na de levende keuring door een dierenarts nog geslacht worden voor humane consumptie. Om onnodig lijden bij wrakke en ernstig zieke dieren te beperken, kunnen de dieren met een schietmasker op het bedrijf door de veehouder zelf worden gedood. De discussie over geschikte dodingsmethoden voor wrakke dieren uitgevoerd door veehouders zal binnenkort weer op beleidsniveau plaatsvinden. Voorbereidend aan deze discussie heeft het ministerie van Landbouw Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit gevraagd om de beschikbare opties aan dodingmethoden voor varkens, runderen, schapen en geiten op het primaire bedrijf goed in beeld te brengen.

Van de fysieke methoden is het schietmasker de meest efficiënte en effectieve methode in combinatie met verbloeding voor varkens, runderen, schapen en geiten. Gebruik van een rietje in het schietgat is ook een effectieve en snelle dodingsmethode voor wrakke dieren maar is wettelijk verboden voor dieren bestemd voor humane consumptie. De emotionele belasting bij toepassing van het schietmasker is redelijk zwaar. Dit wordt waarschijnlijk veroorzaakt door het lichamelijke contact met het dier en door de zeer abrupte bedwelming van het dier. Misschien speelt ook het confronterende fysieke geweld van het schietmasker hierin een rol. Bij oudere dieren komt daar nog bij dat de beweeglijkheid het toepassen van deze methode bemoeilijkt en dat de effectiviteit van het gebruik van schietmaskers wordt beïnvloed door aanpassingen in relatie tot de grootte van het dier.

Bij de elektrische methoden is alleen de methode elektrocutie toe te passen. Het is een welzijnsvriendelijke, effectieve en efficiënte methode behalve bij kleine dieren. Esthetisch gezien is elektrocutie niet fraai door het optreden van spierkrampen na het intreden van de dood. Een recente ontwikkeling is een mobile unit voor elektrocutie van varkens.

Van de gassen of mixen van gassen is alleen de CO2-methode geschikt voor alle diersoorten behalve voor schapen. Voordelen zijn: het goedkope en exact te doseren gas vanuit cilinders. Ten aanzien van de emotionele aspecten, vaardigheden van de uitvoerder en kans op schade bij de uitvoeder heeft de methode voordelen boven andere gassen. Een probleem is dat bij oplossing van CO2 in water, de dieren een prikkeling in slijmvliezen en ogen krijgen. Dit vermindert het dierenwelzijn. Verbetering is mogelijk door 30% O2 toe te voegen. Intreden van de dood kan langer duren bij gebruik van een mix van CO2 en O2. De effectiviteit bij runderen, schapen en geiten is onbekend.

De methoden waarbij letale injecties worden toegepast, zijn niet geschikt om door de veehouder zelf op het primaire bedrijf uit tevoren. De dierenarts is bij uitvoering van deze methoden namelijk vereist. Door de verplichte aanwezigheid van de dierenarts en de daarbij behorende kosten, zal de veehouder wachten met euthanaseren van een wrak dier tot de dierenarts op het bedrijf komt voor andere taken. Het wrakke dier moet hierdoor langer lijden dan noodzakelijk.

Van de nieuwe methoden lijkt de schuimmethode perspectiefvol. Tot nu toe heeft het onderzoek naar deze methode, uitgevoerd in de Verenigde Staten, zich beperkt tot pluimvee en twee jonge biggen. Verder onderzoek wordt aanbevolen met dieren met hogere lichaamsgewichten en met variabele containers voor het euthanaseren met schuim. De methode scoort goed voor zowel dierenwelzijn, effectiviteit en efficiëntie als emotionele aspecten, vereiste vaardigheden, maar stuit tegen eventuele belemmeringen voor de uitvoerder.

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Animal meat & quality

Presentation on the relationship between animal welfare and meat quality

See presentation: Animal-welfare-and-meat-quality

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Report McKeegan: High expansion foam; a humane way of killing? (Oct. 2011)

Dorothy McKeegan presented on October 2011 her study: High Expansion Gas-foam: a humane agent for emergency killing of poultry? Dorothy studied Zoology at the University of Glasgow before completing the MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare at Edinburgh University.

After gaining her PhD in 1999, she worked at Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, conducting neurophysiological and behavioural research relating to the welfare of poultry. Dorothy was appointed as the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation lecturer at Glasgow in February 2005, and her teaching role involves delivering an integrated teaching programme for animal welfare and ethics across the undergraduate curriculum.

As a member of the Division of Animal Production and Public Health, Dorothy continues to pursue her research interests in avian sensory physiology, pain perception and poultry welfare. In current projects she is investigating avian pain, humane emergency slaughter and the welfare implications of production-related conditions. Dorothy also has an educational research interest in the teaching and assessment of ethical reasoning in veterinary students.

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Dierenraad: markt moet welzijn verbeteren

Jan Braakman, redactie Boerderij, 4 december 2012. Den Haag – Niet de overheid, maar de markt moet verbeteringen brengen voor het dierenwelzijn. Dat zegt de Raad voor Dierenaangelegenheden (RDA) in een advies aan staatssecretaris Co Verdaas.

De Raad voor de Dierenaangelegenheden neemt een andere positie in dan de commissies -Wijffels (2001), -Alders (2011) en -Van Doorn (2011), zegt voorzitter Frauke Ohl in een toelichtende brief aan de staatssecretaris.

Verbetering van het dierenwelzijn wordt niet het best bereikt door wettelijke normen op te leggen aan alle veehouders. Juist een verscheidenheid aan kwaliteitsnormen, door de markt zelf bepaald, komt de verbetering van het dierenwelzijn ten goede, meent de RDA.

Volgens de RDA ligt de toekomst van de Nederlandse veehouderij niet in de gangbare bulkproductie tegen wereldmarktprijzen. De veehouderij moet het hebben van ”het vinden, bedienen en uitbouwen van marktsegmenten die bovengemiddeld belang hechten aan duurzaamheid, inclusief een hoog niveau van dierenwelzijn.”

Verbeteringen worden niet gerealiseerd door de eisen in Nederland voor alle veehouders op een hoger plan te zetten dan de Europese Unie voorschrijft. Dat zal volgens de RDA vrijwel zeker een concurrentienadeel opleveren voor de Nederlandse veehouders, die nu vooral generieke producten voor de Europese en mondiale markt maken en op prijs concurreren.’

Aan de andere kant is de vooruitgang klein als Nederland wacht op de Europese regelgeving. Dat doet in de ogen van de RDA te weinig recht aan de maatschappelijke wens voor een hoger niveau van het dierenwelzijn in Nederland.
De RDA zegt dat er een systeemverandering nodig is: ”Er moet gekozen worden voor andere, meer diverse productiedoelen en voor het bedienen van andere markten.”

Dat zou kunnen worden bereikt door particuliere initiatieven op de vrije markt te stimuleren. Op de vrije markt kunnen en zullen nieuwe concepten het best, het snelst en met het breedste draagvlak kunnen worden ontwikkeld en weggezet.”
De veehouderijsectoren moeten weg van de markt op prijsconcurrentie naar de markt voor toegevoegde waarde, zegt de RDA. De overheid moet daarvoor de ruimte geven, in de ogen van de raad.

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Reaction PETA on killing methods

Noam Mohr, representing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals PETA commented on a document of the US Agency for Animal and Plants Health Inspection APHIS, department of Agriculture,  concerning the regulations to establish a voluntary program for the control of low pathogenic avian influenza in commercial poultry.

PETA has a strong opinion about the animal welfare during killing of farm animals. Read their reaction:

“On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 1 million members and supporters, I am writing with regard to Docket No. APHIS 2005 0109. In particular, I ask that the USDA, as part of its government control program for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), include provisions to require or, at a minimum, encourage the use of depopulation methods that provide the least traumatic death possible for birds who are slated to be killed.

The USDA has made efforts to include animal welfare issues in its high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) response plan, including permitting only methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and holding discussions with scientists and animal protection organizations, including PETA, to consider the suffering inflicted by various killing strategies.

It is therefore surprising that these same issues are completely absent from the LPAI program. Unlike HPAI, which has not struck the United States in years, LPAI outbreaks are regularly detected. For example, Pennsylvania alone detects 15 to 20 outbreaks per year. Each outbreak typically requires the mass killing of entire flocks of birds, each of which can number in the tens of thousands.

The sheer magnitude of the number of animals involved makes it ethically incumbent upon us to minimize their suffering. While the interim rule makes many references to the international standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), it fails to mention that OIE guidelines require that when animals are killed for disease control purposes, methods used should result in immediate death or immediate loss of consciousness lasting until death; when loss of consciousness is not immediate, induction of unconsciousness should be non-aversive and should not cause anxiety, pain, distress or suffering in the animals.

Particularly in light of reports from abroad of burning and burying live animals, methods that shock the conscience and violate the most basic standards of animal welfare, the USDA should take all necessary steps to prevent similar abuses from occurring in the United States.

Recommendations

INERT GASES: In particular, when large numbers of birds are to be killed, we recommend the use of inert gases, such as nitrogen or argon, or inert gas mixed with 30 percent carbon dioxide. Inert gases are completely undetectable to birds and provide the most painless death possible under these circumstances. Particularly in cases where sheds cannot be sealed properly (as is often the case, such as, for example, with laying hens), mobile gassing carts filled with inert gas, which render birds painlessly unconscious before killing them via anoxia, should be considered the method of choice. Birds should be carried to the carts individually and upright in order to avoid causing injury, which could lead to disease transmission from exposure to blood or other bodily fluids.

CARBON DIOXIDE: In the United States, the most common method of mass killing of poultry for disease control is the use of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is extremely aversive at high concentrations and is described by humans as ?piercing, stabbing, painful, or causing the eyes to burn or water.? (Conlee KM and others. 2005. Carbon dioxide for euthanasia: concerns regarding pain and distress, with special reference to mice and rats. Laboratory Animals 39: 137?61.) If introduced to the birds at extremely low temperatures, as is common, it can result in death by freezing. Often birds are first rounded up and wrapped in plastic tarp, causing not only extreme fear, but also trampling. Please make every effort to ensure that (1) if carbon dioxide is used, it is pumped directly into sheds without the use of plastic sheeting, a proven method used successfully in the 2004 outbreak of the HPAI in British Columbia; (2) where possible, lower, less aversive levels of carbon dioxide are used to render animals unconscious before they are killed with high concentrations; and (3) measures are taken to prevent birds from freezing to death.

OTHER METHODS: Less humane methods of mass killing of birds should not be considered acceptable, such as cervical dislocation, starvation, bludgeoning, bleeding, maceration (except in the case of newborn chicks), and suffocation, including such common methods of suffocation as burying animals alive, shutting off ventilation in sheds, and smothering birds with firefighting foam. Please do everything in your power to discourage these methods. Avian flu response plans will have an enormous impact on the suffering of many millions of animals. Along with protecting the public, the implementation of methods that minimize the pain and suffering of animals should be an overriding priority and be incorporated into this interim rule. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Noam Mohr Farmed Animal Researcher People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal.”

Read the APHIS Report:  APHIS report 2005, Sept. ’06

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Research on gas foam in 2007 by Marien Gerritzen WUR

Summary report ISSN 1570 – 8616 M.A. Gerritzen Toepassingsmogelijkheden van schuim voor het doden van pluimvee (2007)


Culling animals is an important instrument in fighting infectious animal diseases. To prevent the spread of infectious diseases, from the viewpoint of animal welfare and to prevent infection of humans through contact, animals are preferably culled in the poultry house. Until now, the only available and generally acceptable method was to use CO2 gas.

For poultry houses with a construction unsuitable for gassing, in the Netherlands probably < 30%, methods are being investigated to depopulate the poultry house with minimum human-animal contact. Using foam to cull the animals is a possible acceptable alternative.

Foam can be used in various densities and using various types of gas as a carrier. High-density foam will kill the animals through suffocation. This method is permitted in the USA but suffocation is objected to in the Netherlands from a viewpoint of animal welfare. Adding CO2 to the foam, if the CO2 is released to a sufficient extent and the foam causes no obstruction to the respiratory system, could be an acceptable alternative. However, no form of scientific research has supported this until now.

From the viewpoint of human safety it is essential to avoid or minimise human-animal contact as much as possible. Foam can be used in a simple way with minimum use of personnel so that any contact with the living animals is very limited. In addition, adding foam and therefore moisture will result in a reduction in the amount of dust. If detergents or disinfectants with a virus destroying working are added this can contribute substantially to reducing the virus pressure.

It can be stated in conclusion that using foam to cull animals can be a major alternative to depopulation through gassing but that the consequences for animal welfare have not yet been fully investigated. The minimum human-animal contact and the possibilities for (partial) decontamination are important motivations for further studies into this method.

However, a number of important conditions must be attached to the use of foam as a method of depopulation:

–  The foam must be non-irritating and non-corrosive for animal welfare and human safety reasons

–  There must be no negative effects on the environment.

–  It must not hinder or render depopulation and culling impossible.

Aspects to be studied:

–  What are the effects on animal welfare; rapid unconsciousness; cause of death.

–  Which types of foam do not cause irritation and are safe for the environment.

–  How quickly is CO2 released from the foam (animal welfare).

–  What are the effects on the depopulation process; wait time before the foam has biodegraded; amount of water in the poultry house.

–  Is it possible to reduce the virus pressure in the poultry house and on organic material.

Read report:   Rapport Marien Gerritzen 2007

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