When a pig becomes ill, injured or otherwise disadvantaged, farmers are faced with two courses of action: treatment or on-farm euthanasia. While farmers naturally wish they could make every sick or injured pig well, in some cases euthanasia may be the best option for the well-being of the animal; it is unethical to allow an animal to suffer.
Responsible On-farm Euthanasia Practices
Pig farmers work with their veterinarian to determine what to do when an animal becomes sick or injured. If euthanasia is the best option for the pig’s well-being, farmers 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. The American Association of Swine Veterinarians, in partnership with the National Pork Board, have issued guidelines that provide practical recommendations for on-farm euthanasia. The pork industry continues to support and fund research related to improving on-farm euthanasia techniques and pig well-being.
Pig farmers are encouraged to consult with 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 to perform euthanasia. This action plan should be part of new employee training and reviewed annually with a veterinarian.