When a pig becomes ill, injured or otherwise disadvantaged, the courses of action are treatment or euthanasia. While producers naturally wish they could make every sick or injured pig well, in some cases euthanasia may be the best option for the wellbeing of the animal; it is unethical to allow an animal to suffer.
Responsible On-Farm Euthanasia Practices
If euthanasia is the best option for a pig’s wellbeing, veterinarians and producers must choose the best method of euthanasia given the size of the pig, potential risks to human safety, and available equipment. A euthanasia method is considered humane if there is minimal pain and distress to the pig during administration, rapid loss of consciousness, and death is achieved quickly and consistently.
Producers should consult their veterinarian and develop an action plan defining those caretakers responsible for performing euthanasia, which methods will be used on the farm, and documenting the training caretakers have received. This action plan should be part of new employee training and reviewed annually with a veterinarian.
Research related to improving on-farm euthanasia techniques and pig wellbeing is of utmost importance to the industry and a priority for the Pork Checkoff. A task force has been established to identify opportunities to strengthen the industry’s knowledge and practices.