Effectiveness of a non-penetrating captive bolt for euthanasia of suckling and weaned piglets

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Casey-Trott, Teresa
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University of Guelph

There has been minimal research into the most humane, practical method for on-farm euthanasia of suckling and weaned piglets. The goal of the research presented in this thesis was to test the effectiveness of a non-penetrating captive bolt (Zephyr-E) for euthanasia of piglets ≤ 9 kg. Brainstem and spinal reflexes and heartbeat were used to determine the time to insensibility and death. Post-mortem damage was scored to assess the degree of traumatic brain injury (TBI) induced by the Zephyr-E. The Zephyr-E consistently resulted in immediate, sustained insensibility until death in piglets ≤ 9 kg. Skull fractures and subdural and parenchymal hemorrhage were present in all piglets. Neonatal piglets had longer durations of convulsions and heartbeat and more severe damage than weaned piglets, suggesting age and weight effect TBI. Overall, the Zephyr-E was a highly effective, single step method of euthanasia for suckling and weaned piglets up to 9 kg.

Piglet Euthanasia