Shearer, J. 2018. Euthanasia of cattle: Practical considerations and application. Animals 8(4), 57.
Acceptable methods for the euthanasia of cattle include overdose of an anesthetic, gunshot and captive bolt. The use of anesthetics for euthanasia is costly and complicates carcass disposal. These issues can be avoided by use of a physical method such as gunshot or captive bolt; however, each requires that certain conditions be met to assure an immediate loss of consciousness and death. For example, the caliber of firearm and type of bullet are important considerations when gunshot is used. When captive bolt is used, a penetrating captive bolt loaded with the appropriate powder charge and accompanied by a follow up (adjunctive) step to assure death are required. The success of physical methods also requires careful selection of the anatomic site for entry of a “free bullet” or “bolt” in the case of penetrating captive bolt. Disease eradication plans for animal health emergencies necessitate methods of euthanasia that will facilitate rapid and efficient depopulation of animals while preserving their welfare to the greatest extent possible. A portable pneumatic captive bolt device has been developed and validated as effective for use in mass depopulation scenarios. Finally, while most tend to focus on the technical aspects of euthanasia, it is extremely important that no one forget the human cost for those who may be required to perform the task of euthanasia on a regular basis. Symptoms including depression, grief, sleeplessness and destructive behaviors including alcoholism and drug abuse are not uncommon for those who participate in the euthanasia of animals.