Financial and welfare implications of immediately euthanizing compromised nursery pigs
W. E. Morgan Morrow, BVSc, MS, PhD; Robert E. Meyer, DVM, Diplomate ACVA; John Roberts, DVM, PhD; Duncan Lascelles, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, Diplomate ACVS, ECVS
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Objective: To provide economic and welfare information necessary to determine if a compromised pig should be euthanized or provided continued care.
Methods: We assigned batches of pigs to protocols that required many, some, or few compromised pigs to be euthanized upon entering the nursery (aggressive, moderate, or conservative euthanasia protocols, respectively). Compromised pigs not immediately euthanized were ear-tagged and monitored and costs were recorded. Welfare status was assessed daily (higher score indicating worse welfare) and pigs were euthanized as warranted. Compromised pigs were assigned an economic value based on their weight minus costs.
Results: A total of 51,041 nursery-age pigs in 47 batches were screened upon entering five farms (herds). The mean value ($US) for pigs by herd ranged from $10.81 to $48.99 for the conservative euthanasia protocol and from $0 to $46.66 for the aggressive protocol. The mean adverse welfare score for pigs by herd ranged from 73.51 to 112.86 for the conservative protocol and from 0 to 59.68 for the aggressive protocol.
Implications: Under the conservative euthanasia protocol and the conditions of this study, pigs that are weak, lame, have prolapses, or have two or more concurrent conditions have a low value and high adverse welfare score. Herd welfare can be improved at least cost by immediately euthanizing most of these pigs.
Keywords: euthanasia, welfare, economics, injuries, nursery
Cite as: Morrow WEM, Meyer RE, Roberts J, et al. Financial and welfare implications of immediately euthanizing compromised nursery pigs. J Swine Health Prod 2006;14(1):25-34.
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