News & Advice

What happens when you get a farm animal euthanized?

Aug 12, 2018 | Lifestyle Farmers

It can often be stressful to make the decision to euthanize a farm animal. But once that decision is made, how do you proceed?

If the animal is not sick or injured, you can send it to the Works. If it cannot travel to the Works, home-kill or down cow processers might be appropriate. However, on lifestyle blocks, we often euthanize animals that are pets, making these options unsuitable. What are the other options?

For many animals, a firearm operated by an experienced person is the best option. However this option does sometimes come with some drawbacks, as it is often recommended to bleed the animal out after shooting. Also, even though the brain has shut down, the animal often kicks for a few minutes afterwards, as the rest of their body shuts down. Firearm euthanasia, when performed by an experienced individual, is a humane and inexpensive form of euthanasia for livestock and is the preferred method for animals that would become stressed with handling.

Euthanasia by a veterinarian is performed similar to dogs and cats. The animal is usually not sedated, and is euthanized with an IV injection in the neck. With large animals, they tend to fall very heavily and suddenly to the ground. They do not simply sit and quietly fall asleep. They can also take breaths and move for a while after euthanasia, however not as much as with firearm euthanasia.

It is recommended that you have an appropriate size hole dug for the animal before the euthanasia, and have a way of transporting the animal from the area of euthanasia to the hole (sometimes they need to be lifted or dragged by a tractor). You will need to have a way to restrain your animal for the vet to inject in the neck. Many owners, especially with horses, prefer not to be present for the euthanasia as they would rather have more peaceful memories of the last time they saw their animal. Euthanasia done by a veterinarian can be costly, so contact your veterinarian for an estimate if you are considering this option.

If you are unsure whether or not your animal needs to be euthanized, or what the best option is, contact your local veterinarian.

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