To avoid unintended welfare problems, the killing procedure must spare animals any avoidable pain, distress or suffering. This implies that moving animals to the killing point and restraining them for the purpose of stunning and killing must be done without causing undue fear and distress. Operators must affirm death of animals by confirming the absence of vital signs of cardiovascular, respiratory and neuronal functioning. Best practices maximally limit stress during handling and killing processes (see ‘Show more’).
EURCAW-Pigs’ Review on euthanasia of suckling piglets on farm suggests improved practises for each of four key areas:
Appropriate decision-making in relation to euthanasia
Animals requiring euthanasia are subjected to a prolonged period of pain and suffering if euthanasia is not carried out at the appropriate time. Regular inspections by the farmer help identify animals with severe, incurable injuries and diseases. By killing them as quickly as possible in an appropriate manner, animals are spared further and avoidable pain and suffering.
Handling and moving piglets to the killing point
Moving animals by trolley is considered as the best option. Effective and gentle handling can be checked by assessing animal movements and behaviour like no slipping and falling, no escape attempts, not being reluctant to move or turning back, no high-pitched vocalisations.
During the killing process itself, the potential for pain and fear is linked to the state of consciousness. Consciousness is the capacity to receive, process, and respond to information from the internal and external environment, and thus the ability to feel emotions and be sensible to external stimuli that lead to pain and fear. Therefore, animal-based indicators for the state of consciousness serve to identify the potential for pain and fear in animals during the killing procedure.
Post-mortem inspection of the carcass
The post mortem inspection of the carcass may reveal method application failures as well as a delayed killing of the animal following a prolonged period of pain and suffering before death.
In the next section, welfare indicators are described, helping to confirm death of each animal killed on farm.
Source photo: ©bsi Schwarzenbek