(Dr. Dan) Hi there and welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University and we have a great show lined up today. Dr. Matt Miesner’s gonna be joining me and we’re gonna talk about euthanization of cattle and this is a sensitive subject, but it’s one that is prudent for us to discuss here within the industry, so stay tuned and enjoy the show.
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(Dr.Dan) Hi there and welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University and I’m joined once again by Dr. Matt Miesner who is a Boarded Internal Medicine Specialist for beef cattle and dairy cattle and is an Associate Clinical Professor here in our Veterinary Health Center and this is the third of a three part series where we’ve talked about causes for downed animals, treatment and care of downed animals and now we’re at that point where we talked in the last episode of we’ve set our goals and there’s a potential we don’t meet those goals and what do we do? And that’s when we have humane euthanization. (Male) Right. You know and it’s a real situation. That’s why we try to make those kind of goals before we start. Regardless of the best medicine, the best facility, sometimes we’re just gonna not go in the correction direction and then it becomes a welfare type issue and it’s something that we need to address and realize a long time I ago, I can’t save them all, but, you know, we can try and when we get to that point where what we’re doing is not helping and does not have an outlook that we want, we’re gonna have to go the other direction. (Dr. Dan) For the viewers out there that don’t understand the terminology euthanization, it’s a Latin term meaning good death and it’s when we decide that we need to put this animal down or it’s not progressing and Jim Shear, I heard him speak at a conference once and he said, When it comes to euthanasia of cows, it’s better to be a week early than a day late. (Male) Sure, yeah. You know and it’s often times a very fortunate part of our, you know, an arsenal of things that, you know, it’s part of treatment I guess. You know you think that you have to make them suffer and we don’t want suffering and to prolong things that are gonna be poor outcome in the end, it’s just the wrong way to go. (Dr. Dan) Yeah and, you know, we in veterinary medicine took an oath for the relieve of suffering of animals and I think farmers and producers, they may not take that oath directly like we do at graduation day, but, you know, we all have a responsibility to these animals to treat them humanely, with dignity and, you know, relieve the suffering when we can. (Male) Right and that’s part of, you know, it’s a disheartening thing to think about sometimes, but in the end, we feel we’re doing our job to protect the animal that way, you know, so. (Dr. Dan) Yup. So we’re gonna be getting up against the break, but when you think about euthanasia and that, what’s the first thing that comes to mind as far as it’s time that we aren’t gonna be progressing? (Male) Often times, what I see is an attitude change where, and often times it’s appetite or awareness of surroundings, different things are going the wrong direction because, you know, they can’t tell me things. I can’t talk to them yet. (Dr. Dan) Right. (Male) Someday maybe, but overall attitude has changed and we’re going the wrong direction, feed consumption, that kind of thing tells me, Hey, you know, we need to start probably going the other way. (Dr. Dan) Well let’s take a break, come back and continue our discussion. You’re watching DocTalk and we’re sure glad you joined us.
(Dr. Dan) Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Matt Miesner and we’re from the College of Veterinary Medicine here at Kansas State University and we’re talking about euthanasia of cattle and when we went to break, we we’re talking about, you know, there’s a change in attitude. This animal is giving up, you know, and has decided it’s time, so what are some of the other things as a veterinarian when you walk out there and you say, ìOkay, this happened, we’re gonna euthanize the animal or this happened and we need to make the decision? (Male) Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, we talk about attitude and that kind of thing, but that still becomes somewhat of a subjective measure, you know, and a difficult one to really make an ultimate decision on a lot of times. Other things would be both, sure you talked about, you know, calving paralysis, okay, she’s down, she’s not able to get up or she’s a little bit wobbly and then we know she’s gonna try, she slips and maybe her hip falls out, okay, so we’ve now added a severe injury on top of the potentially treated one, a milk fever cow, you’ve given them calcium. Yes, that response, but again, they have some catastrophic injury after that, so if we have a severe injury on top of one problem or the problems start becoming stacked, we stop, you know? (Dr. Dan) So the prognosis is poor, grave and. (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan) What about economics? (Male) Yeah. I mean that’s a real thing. I mean not only just for profit of whatever purpose that cow has, but just realism for treatment. I mean a lot of times, I say, ìWell the cost is no option, but and it may not be, but often times just putting more finances into is still not in the good benefit of the cow. (Dr. Dan) And I think one thing that’s really important for our industry is don’t take these animals to the sale barn, don’t take these animals, you know, these animals that are downed, they can’t get up, they’re non-ambulatory, those animals, if you’re not gonna have the opportunity to treat them or the ability to treat them or the economics to treat them, we need to euthanize them. (Male) Sure. (Dr. Dan) Don’t put them in a sale barn, don’t put them in a public place and display our failures, relieve the suffering. (Male) Absolutely, yeah. It’s one of those, you know, trying to get the last little bit doesn’t do anybody, the industry or the animal any good and, so that’s another thing. (Dr. Dan) And especially the animal. The animal’s the one that’s going through the most and, you know, so we don’t want to do that. Those animals can’t be accepted into the food chain. So it’s time to make a change. (Male) I mean and some of the therapy just runs out. I mean we can float cows in a big tank and I use that as a prognosis as much as any, you know, if I can’t get her up in the tank and float, then that tells me this cow is in a world of problems and that might be a cut-off as well. You know so part of your therapy runs out if we don’t have the ability to do it or the best therapy is not working. (Dr. Dan) So attitude, prognosis, stacking of events, the economics of the situation and just general understanding of the animal facilities and what’s going on (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan) and we make the decision. (Male) Yeah. (Dr. Dan) Appreciate it. When we come back, we’re gonna discuss methods of humane euthanasia. You’re watching DocTalk and we’re sure glad you joined us.
(Dr. Dan) Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Matt Miesner and we are both faculty members here at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. We’re talking about euthanasia of cattle and we’ve talked about now, we’ve gotten to the point when to make the decision to do it with dignity, to do it with, you know, save dignity for the animal. What are the, you know, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners have euthanasia guidelines, but what are the main methods in which we can use? (Male) Well we’re still whatever it is is gonna be, you know, swift and hopefully immediate. (Dr. Dan) Render that animal completely unconscious, yep. (Male) Right and the methods that we have available are, you know, gunshot, captive bolt and then the intravenous barbiturate overdoses, those kind of things. They’re legal and safe to do these with. (Dr. Dan) Yeah and I think it’s almost equally important is that, you know, gunshot, captive bolt and overdose of barbiturates are the legal methods of euthanasia. Make sure no blunt force trauma, no sledge hammers, no, you know, swinging objects. Blunt force Trauma is hitting them in the head with something. We don’t want to do that, injection of illegal substances, no electrocution, no injection of air. (Male) Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, there’s some horribly toxic chemicals that can inject into an animal and yes, eventually die, but the process to the ultimate end is no humane. It’s not only unsightly, it’s not humane to that animal. (Dr. Dan) Yep. (Male) So we have legal tried and true methods for euthanasia and that’s what we stick with. (Dr. Dan) K. now the overdose of barbiturates is definitely gonna be that’s controlled substance, definitely gonna beÖa veterinarian has to come to the farm, has to perform the procedure and if you do that, do not render those animals because the barbiturate’s on board, so those animals are gonna have to be buried or (Male) Yeah. There’s some specific guidelines for that because the barbiturate’s still active. You know there’s plenty of situations where predators or scavengers have been poisoned by the barbiturate, so if they’re done that way, they need to beÖ (Dr. Dan) Got to take care of the carcass. (Male) Take care of it. (Dr. Dan) So let’s talk about the other two. The two that probably, you know, if you’re a producer or veterinarian or out there on the farm, we’re gonna use the most gunshot and captive bolt. (Male) Yes. Both of those, you know, it’s a direct penetration to the brain and difference is with the gunshot, you can stay a little further away, a safe distance whereas if it’s a captive bolt, we have to be right up on them. (Dr. Dan) Yup and it’s a penetrating captive bolt that comes out, could penetrate the skull, goes into the brain and renders the animal dead. (Male) Correct. So either one of those, we have to talk about good restraint for the animal before we perform that procedure as well, you know, so that the safety of everybody involved is undertaking as well, so and they don’t move. (Dr. Dan) You bet. well I think that gunshot, gun safety, making sure nobody’s behind an animal, captive bolt, make sure the animals are secure, they can swing their head and might get you. (Male) Yes. (Dr. Dan) All right. Thanks for watching DocTalk. We’re gonna come back and we’re gonna talk some more about humane euthanasia, some of the landmarks that you can use and wrap up this discussion. Thanks for watching us and we’ll be back in a minute.
(Dr. Dan) Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here from the College of Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Matt Miesner who is a Boarded Internal Medicine Specialist here in the Veterinary Health Center and you’re an Associate Clinical Professor and we’re talking about euthanasia of cattle and I think we’ll just wrap up, let’s talk about gunshot and the use of gunshot as a humane method which it is an approved method for euthanasia of cattle. Two things I want to touch on as we wrap up today, what type of loads and ammunition do we use guns and then location. (Male) Sure. I mean there’s plenty of diagrams out there to show you, you know, where exactly the brain lies. We kind of use the X methods from the base of the ear to the inside of the eye there and next thing is angle that you’re gonna be going in because that X needs to be pretty much directly on (Dr. Dan) Perpendicular to the skull. (Male) perpendicular to the skull and, so the next thing would be often times the caliber of a bullet or a gunshot would be what we would use on the farm in a safe area, void any kind of rickshaws and that becomes the next thing would be to choose a type of caliber or type of bullet that’s not gonna rickshaw or less likely to rickshaw as well and often times things like hollow point bullets might fragment before they penetrate the skull, okay? Too light of loads could potentially rickshaw off the skull if not placed correctly, but I think, you know, a thirty-eight type caliber is a good, solid point. A twenty-two solid is often times enough on smaller animals, but those kind of things would be in the decision process. A very high caliber might not be something that would be safe. It could potentially take off. (Dr. Dan) Well we get through and through shots with the higher caliber as well and that exits the skull. One of them that I use a lot that does quite effective is the one ounce slug in a shotgun and pretty good knock down power and stays intact and it’s got a lot of force. (Male) Sure and it doesn’t really go after that, so. (Dr. Dan) But if you’re gonna use, you know, a twenty-two, make sure you don’t use a hollow point (Male) Right. (Dr. Dan)…and if you have animals that are older, they have more bone mass in that frontal sinus and in the skull, then we’re gonna be looking at maybe some higher caliber, but twenty-two still does a pretty good job. (Male) Twenty-two’s very effective and well placed shot with an adequate projectile, yeah, so. (Dr. Dan) You bet. I think location is probably more important and the thing that people, you know, and you jump in here, but the thing that I see is that people will shoot too low. They don’t understand that it’s the medial canthus or inside of that eye to the opposite pole and where that X and from the diagram, one can see where we need to be. (Male) Sure and angles. I mean often times you can draw that and then you kind of shoot too low and you hit just a sinus and all it is is just sort of a voided air space and, so yeah, I kind of use the air a little on the high side, you knowÖ (Dr. Dan) You bet. (Male) but yeah, safety position, accurate shot placement, so safety. (Dr. Dan) Perfect.
Thanks for watching DocTalk today. Make sure you work with your local veterinarian on issues such as humane euthanasia. If you want to know more about what Dr. Miesner and I do here at Kansas State University, you can find us on the web at www.vet.ksu.edu. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. You’ve been watching DocTalk. We’re sure glad you joined us and I’ll see you down the road.
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