Evaluation of Methods of Rapid Mass Killing of Segregated Early Weaned Piglets

Based on animal welfare parameters, controlled blunt force trauma was the most satisfactory method of euthanasia in pigs of this age under field conditions, according to research from Manitoba, Canada.
calendar icon 15 February 2012
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The operational logistics of mass killing of healthy, surplus piglets by manual blunt force trauma, controlled blunt force trauma, intraperitoneal injection of barbiturate, and free bullet were recorded and reported by Dr Terry Whiting of Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives in Winnipeg and co-authors in a paper published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal last year.

They evaluated objective performance variables: speed of application, human resource and input cost, animal restraint required, and failure rate.

Subjective evaluation of aesthetics and difficulty of application indicated manual blunt force trauma is an unacceptable technique.

Under field conditions, physical methods of killing were superior to intraperitoneal injection of concentrated pentobarbital. The latter method has not been approved as a euthanasia agent in pigs although it is approved for dogs, cats, horses, cattle, mink and birds.

Considering animal welfare metrics in isolation, controlled blunt force trauma was superior to all other techniques attempted.


Whiting T.L., G.G. Steele, S. Wamnes and C. Green. 2011. Evaluation of methods of rapid mass killing of segregated early weaned piglets. Can. Vet. J. 52(7):753-8.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

February 2012
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