Hot on Facebook: Euthanasia of Suckling Pigs Using Blunt Force Trauma

As a result of recent media attention to how pigs are cared for in swine facilities, we’ve received quite a few Facebook comments and e-mails from veterinarians and others expressing their discomfort about the methods used to euthanize piglets. Several of you asked for more information and the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia’s recommendations.

First—to clarify—the AVMA’s Guidelines on Euthanasia focus on the science of pain management, loss of consciousness, and death. While a method of euthanasia may be effective in creating a quick death with no or little pain or trauma, there may be other factors to consider, including who is administering the euthanasia and their level of training and competency, and what effects the process may have on that person and on observers.

We’re aware that manually applied blunt force trauma to the head can be disturbing to watch and, for that reason, swine researchers are working hard to identify alternatives.  Despite its appearance, it can be an effective way to euthanize nursing piglets. The fact is that manually applied blunt force trauma to the head, either with an implement or by striking the head against a surface, has been shown to cause immediate unconsciousness and rapid death when performed correctly on young piglets. It must be performed correctly so that it does cause immediate unconsciousness and rapid death. If it is not done correctly, it is neither effective nor humane.  Personnel using manually applied blunt force trauma for euthanasia must be well trained and monitored to make sure that the method is performed correctly and that animals do not suffer.

Blunt force trauma is effective for euthanasia of young piglets because the frontal bones of their skull are not yet fully developed and a single sharp blow can induce immediate brain damage, resulting in irreversible unconsciousness and death. Many other species are born with fully developed frontal bones, and this method should not be used for them.

Physical methods of euthanasia (e.g., blunt force trauma, gunshot, decapitation) can be disturbing to observers, even when expertly performed. Because of this, it makes sense to consider alternatives if observers are unprepared or may be distressed by witnessing this type of euthanasia. When making a decision as to what technique to use for any animal, however, the primary focus should be on ensuring immediate loss of consciousness and rapid death so the animal does not suffer.

Based upon current data, the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia has determined that manually applied blunt force trauma to the head is an acceptable method of euthanasia for suckling pigs—but only when correctly performed to ensure immediate loss of consciousness and rapid death.  Despite being considered acceptable, we have encouraged those working with pigs to consider alternative methods for euthanizing suckling piglets. Other acceptable methods include gases such as carbon dioxide, other physical methods such as captive bolt, and an overdose of an anesthetic administered by a veterinarian. It should be noted that the latter is not an option for animals intended for human consumption.

The updated Euthanasia Panel’s report is in final editing stages and should be available late summer/early fall. The following references may provide additional answers to your questions regarding this issue.

Chevillion P, Mircovich C, Dubroca S, Fleho JY. Comparison of different pig euthanasia methods available to farmers. Proc Int Soc Anim Hyg: Saint-Malo 2004;45–46.

Millman S. Mechanical euthanasia methods—process and physiology, in Proceedings. 41st Annu Meet Am Assoc Swine Vet 2010;443–446.

Whiting T, Steele GS, Wamnes S, et al. Evaluation of methods of rapid mass killing of segregated early weaned piglets. Can Vet J 2011;52:753–758.

Widowski T. Effectiveness of a non-penetrating captive bolt for on-farm euthanasia of low viability piglets. Des Moines, Iowa: National Pork Board, 2008.

 

Edit added 7/21 at 6:00 pm: We realize this issue is controversial. You are free to express your opinion, but please be aware that comments that are offensive, abusive, profane, or personal attacks will be removed.

44 thoughts on “Hot on Facebook: Euthanasia of Suckling Pigs Using Blunt Force Trauma

  1. Ultimately if you want these processes to stop, you must stop funding it. Consumers are the reason these situations are occurring. The majority of them are uneducated on where their food comes from and blinded by marketing.

    I have been a vegetarian for about three years now and I have no regrets. I first decided to stop eating meat because I came to the realization of my actions. Certainly there is the animal cruelty issue, but mainly I was beginning to realize that I was consuming the skin, muscles, and other organs of dead corpses… It suddenly made things unappetizing for me and curbed my desire slowly until there was none at all, but instead a disgust.

    At first I just stopped eating pork, then a few months later I stopped eating chicken. Then I finally gave up beef. I substituted the beef with veggie patties and other vegetarian products. It was semi-awkward in social situations initially, but that soon passed and I no longer feel any awkwardness, rather I feel good about myself and the knowledge that I was strong enough to make a decision and follow through with my actions. In addition, it feels great to be making a difference every time I have a meal.

    Nowadays the smell of meat is an awful and fowl scent to me. I do not miss it at all. I can’t believe I even took part in the process of eating body parts of dead animals for over 20 years… it is quite ridiculous. It is funny how society and family can make something so wrong seem acceptable and even normal.

    I get a good laugh when people express how vegetarianism is strange and that they could never give up meat. I have had several of those same people end up coming back to me months later. They tell me that they have stopped eating certain meats because of some random reason: animal cruelty, health concerns, etc. and that they are starting to see my point. In reality it’s simply that they are no longer blind to the situation and can finally think for themselves. It is easy to live in ignorance, but not so much when that ignorance is removed or when light is shed upon it.

    The main problem is that people are too scared to stop doing something that is wrong in fear of being criticized by their peers and family. That is truly a shame because they are the ones who should be providing the most support. For the many people who are in this situation, my advice is to take small steps towards your goal like I did. In reality it is an easy and short journey to vegetarianism. People make a bigger deal than it really is because they are afraid. Once you’re on the other side you have no desire to go back, the only regret being that you waited so long before taking action.

  2. 1. How are pigs in industrial settings even able to procreate and completely gestate unexpectedly or uncontrolled? I thought this was all done with cold precision, even artificially.

    2. Why would anyone kill livestock offspring? Don’t these animals represent money? Both the resources used to get them to birth, plus their future value as a livestock animal? I mean, just buying a goat kid locally is not cheap. I don’t get this at all?

    3. Is it some kind of industry practice to cut tails off of piglets?

    4. What was that woman doing to the piglet after the tail-cutting part, looks like an eyedropper on its butt? In some of the scenes, it’s not clear what is happening or what is wrong. (They should have highlights or at least some text pointing that out in some cases. Same goes with the DiGiorno/Nestle cow abuse video.)

    5. What is the proper way to move immobile and/or stubborn animals? On the DiGiorno cow video, I was left asking myself how a downer cow is supposed to be properly moved. It obviously has to be dragged. Is there any non-cruel way to do this? I doubt it. There are only “less cruel”. Let’s face it… meat “is” cruelty.

    6. It’s clear that the only true solution for this is veganism. And I say this as a non-vegetarian. WE commit or participate in violence. Every day. You can’t say you’re not a violent person if you consume meat or even dairy. Sadly. I think everyone ought to watch slaughterhouse video, so they KNOW what they’re participating in.

    7. The horrific amputation of the piglets tails is still not as horrific as circumcision on humans (of any sex). I am sure my own genital amputation was worse to watch and endure than the pigs’ tail amputations. If someone were to circumcise any animal, they would doubtlessly be arrested for animal cruelty. Yet it is legal, in most cases, in most places, on humans, due to dishonesty both in the medical and religious worlds. If circumcision did any good, they’d do it on valuable livestock, while they’re doing their other genital amputation (castration). After all, livestock lives in far dirtier conditions than humans. Of all those animals’ documented medical problems, needing a circumcision was not one. Being born a healthy boy or girl is not a birth defect!! We need to get serious about cruelty as a human race, and stop making up convenient lies to waive the need for re-evaulating out own beliefs and information.

    And I agree with the earliest poster. Mere killing of an unwanted animal is not “euthanasia”. Come up with another word if you want, but stop using that. A piglet is not benefitting from getting its head bashed in.

  3. If slamming piglets on the ground or against a hard object is an acceptable method for euthanasia by
    AVMA standards, do they offer training classes to enable a person to perform the method right? Is there a class offered by AVMA accredited schools? Do they use rubber piglets or real piglets. How hard and how do you make sure the angle is right. This is the same AVMA that supports the brutal practice of horse slaughter. Maybe we should be glad that athe AVMA deals with animals and not humans.

  4. I can’t believe what I saw on that video that shows those poor pigs being tortured. Tyson Foods should be blocked from all stores. I will never buy there food. I think anyone involved should be put in a steel cage and can’t even turn around. I applaud that someone took videos of this horrible act. How do you bastards even sleep at night. Hopefully someone will keep watching this company forever. Their license should be taken away for ever and the employees that actually should be in jail. When dogs are abused their abuser is in jail. Why aren’t their monsters in jail. The AVMA should be right behind them I jail. What’s with the notice that says “We’re sorry but posts violate our moderate our policy and have been removed” COWARD SOMEO NE DO MORE FOR JUSTICE

    • What these people was doing is not human at all……they were making them suffer…. I mean digging their eyes and all…….u can’t say that is right.. .something should be done about this. Yall are cruel and I will not buy that product again!!!!!!

  5. As a veterinarian, and a member of the AVMA, I also strongly disagree with the AVMA’s stance on blunt force trauma for piglet euthanasia. I have seen it done in practice and the animal very rarely dies immediately with one strike. Typically, the animal will convulse or have a seizure, and the immediate cause of death will be shock and severe cerebral edema. Some piglets are left to die slowly for hours on end. This is unofficially accepted by the pork producing industry. It is very unfortunate, but more veterinarians and people within the industry need to speak out against the practice for change to occur. Unfortunately, because legislation on animal welfare is highly variable from state to state, large food animal farms and businesses will close down farms in one state for another for less strict laws. For example, gestation crates are about to be banned in California; instead of adhering to the law, most pig farmers are moving there operation to states such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Iowa. Change needs to occur on the federal level.

    Yousuf J., DVM

    • Thank you for speaking out. I am a pre-vet student and an advocate against animal cruety, so I was disheartened by this AVMA post. However, knowing that an official member of the AVMA feels that these methods are inhumane, gives me hope that changes can still be made. Thank you Dr. Yousef!

    • 1. How are pigs in industrial settings even able to procreate and completely gestate unexpectedly or uncontrolled? I thought this was all done with cold precision, even artificially.

      2. Why would anyone kill livestock offspring? Don’t these animals represent money? Both the resources used to get them to birth, plus their future value as a livestock animal? I mean, just buying a goat kid locally is not cheap. I don’t get this at all?

      3. Is it some kind of industry practice to cut tails off of piglets?

      4. What was that woman doing to the piglet after the tail-cutting part, looks like an eyedropper on its butt? In some of the scenes, it’s not clear what is happening or what is wrong. (They should have highlights or at least some text pointing that out in some cases. Same goes with the DiGiorno/Nestle cow abuse video.)

      5. What is the proper way to move immobile and/or stubborn animals?

      6. Anyone notice that most of the people committing these cruel acts are clearly Hispanic immigrants, esp in the DiGiorno cow abuse video (including yelling Spanish at the cows)? I know all peoples have and do commit atrocities of all kinds, including against animals–so don’t even start. But it is true that attitudes towards animal cruelty are mostly cultural. What I’m wondering is whether there’s an even lower cultural concern for animal cruelty among the immigrant Hispanic population, vs American-raised farmhands?

      7. It’s clear that the only true solution for this is veganism. And I say this as a non-vegetarian. WE commit or participate in violence. Every day. You can’t say you’re not a violent person if you consume meat or even dairy. Sadly. I think everyone ought to watch slaughterhouse video, so they KNOW what they’re participating in.

  6. How is this behavior not criminal? If those animals were all dogs and puppies would the situation be any different? Why is this acceptable treatment for ANY animal? How is a farm animal classified any different than a pet? I am so horribly disgusted by this. How is it that the AVMA, which consists of scholars in veterinary medicine, chooses not to set the highest standard for animal treatment? If the veterinarians who swore to protect the animals’ quality of life and welfare will not advocate for these animals, who will? Absolutely appalled.

  7. The AVMA has to respond to the overwhelming public sentiment against this practice, now that it has reached such public awareness. This may have been an acceptable practice up until now, but practices can and should be improved over time and the old methods rendered obsolete. It is time now. Clearly the individuals entrusted in these farms with the responsibility of euthanasia often fail to perform the method effectively and humanely. If veterinarians would take responsibility for all euthanasia on these farms, then the AVMA’s stand on this practice would have more validity. Since that is impractical, then you must reassess and recommend a new standard for the acceptable method of euthanasia that is more reliable and easily mastered by the poorly paid and often unfeeling individuals employed by these farms.

  8. The AVMA states: “You are free to express your opinion, but please be aware that comments that are offensive, abusive, profane, or personal attacks will be removed.” Your stance is that words, plain old words, can be offensive, abusive, profane. Is that irony? Inhumane actions and outright cruelty fit those words and their definitions, not words. I’ve lost so much respect for vets reading your statement, it’s obscene and worse than the actual articles written about how the pigs are being treated. I don’t want to eat the meat of animals that are being mistreated, or as in this case, tortured. It makes a difference to me. I’m not interested in the AVMA excuses, I am only interested in the fixes.

  9. If “blunt force trauma’ is the ‘best method’ that the AVMF can come up with, it falls pathetically short. One would think that a group of educated professionals would have a little more common sense, or at least some empathy.

    Disgusting.

  10. Why are they slamming the pigs on the floor to kill them? Makes no sense to hurt them over and over until they die!!! Is this not animal cruelty in a severe manner?

    When I was on the farm, we grew animals and the pigs were slaughtered by hanging them up by their back feet.. Their throat was cut and they died and all the blood drained out…. my Aunts then took care of everything else….

    This is a fast death and no pain except the hanging in the air upside down is scary for the pig.. they hate being lifted off the ground.

    WHY COULDN’T THIS BE DONE? Simple job to do… MERCY it is!!! Is it not?

    • The accepted method of euthanizing is a blow to the head to cause immediate unconsciousness then death. They need to do it with substantial force or the animal may not be fully unconscious and suffer until the partially recover or finally die of brain hemorrhage. This is an ugly process but would it be visually better to hit the animal on the head with a hammer or use that gun that fires a shaft into the brain? They end up doing the same thing really. My question is “why are they killing the piglets anyway?” and what do they do with the bodies? I really don’t think it is more humane to hang an animal by it’s feet. That is a trauma in itself. Then cut its throat and let it bleed to death. That maybe tradition but it it not humane. Which method caused the most immediate unconsciousness to terminate the sensation of pain? To stop all this…become a vegetarian…that, until you get the group that claims plants feel pain and “scream”. Look it up, this is a belief.

  11. But how do they know that some piglets have developed frontal bones and some not??? i am sure that those “workers” didnt separate them, because the are sadistic bastards who with joy in the face made the pigs suffer. Well cant they just cut their heads off or something????? it is less physically difficult for the workers if the do it with axe or something, and it still isnt like the best but the pig will sure die in the moment. The poor pigs and piglets showed there were suffering and their bodies were shaking for the whole minutes! But i think that those “workers” are actually happy and proud of theyre doing, they enjoy throwing the little pigs to the ground, cut theyre parts of the body alive, they enjoy the scream of those poor animals… people like this should be killed the same way, and i would be really glad to see them suffering and be like: oh yeah youre really right it is sooooo enjoyable to see you like this screaming for help… yeah any other species doesnt do that what the human can…

  12. what is wrong with a good old fashioned bullet to the head? Kills immediately. No bashing heads in no slamming them against the ground which may or may not kill them. I am sure these companies make enough money to afford some bullets for the animals. I can’t believe this is “standard industry practice.” Well I no longer consume butterball looks like Tyson is out too.

    • Why are they slamming the pigs on the floor to kill them? Makes no sense to hurt them over and over until they die!!! Is this not animal cruelty in a severe manner?

      When I was on the farm, we grew animals and the pigs were slaughtered by hanging them up by their back feet.. Their throat was cut and they died and all the blood drained out…. my Aunts then took care of everything else….

      This is a fast death and no pain except the hanging in the air upside down is scary for the pig.. they hate being lifted off the ground.

      WHY COULDN’T THIS BE DONE? Simple job to do… MERCY it is!!! Is it not?

  13. When I started watching this video, I started feeling sick, horrified, and even cried. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! I had to stop and could not even finish watching it. The AVMA can just sit back and calmly state that slamming baby pigs into concrete is an acceptable method of ending their lives? Are you serious? These pigs are suffering, what more proof do you need? It’s right there, in front of your faces. How can you, in any good conscience, just state that this is acceptable? What happened to your care for animals? This is animal cruelty. That’s the bottom line. I am totally disgusted and appalled!

  14. It is rather disturbing that all of these comments are directed at animal welfare only.

    The really sick aspect of the recently released videos is the HUMAN behavior being deemed “acceptable” here!!

    What does it say about humanity that we can train and pay other humans to carry out these methods (done “correctly” or otherwise)?? Pigs and horses are faily intelligent animals. What percentage of these “farmers” go on to become serial killers?? Has anyone studied that?

    Put another way, would you want your daughter dating someone who had been trained that this brutality is “appropriate” and OK?! If so, maybe you should look at jioning the Taliban.

    by the way, I have wittnessed much worse abuse of animals in rural China where organs are live harvested.

    The real answer to this atrocity is to raise your family vegetarian. Otherwise it is only a question of degrees.

    Tom

    • I agree with you. I can’t believe there hasn’t been more research into the mental stability of farm animal handlers vs the general population. To witness and inflict this kind of raw brutality day in and day out MUST do something to their psyche, if it wasn’t already messed up to begin with.

    • This is the reason I stopped eating meat this past August. If we all eat a little less meat we will send a strong message… So lets be real here this is about supply and demand.
      We dont really care about these animals. Its about the money!

  15. Although it is unpleasant, there is an issue here and its more about being humane than about making money, as some people suggest. Pigletts are sometimes born with deformities such as cleft palate, deformed legs, and no anus (to name a few). Such animals should be identified as soon as possible and culled immediately to prevent suffering. Euthenasia by injection is not humane as a vein is almost impossible to locate in such a small animal (and it has to be administered intravenously) so it is invariably done directly into the heart or lungs. I think this is even more stressfull and not as quick as blunt force trauma. Some stockmen put them in a bucket of water, close the lid and walk away, leaving them to drown – nice for the stockman, terible for the piglett.
    I believe every piggery should have at least one person who is trained and available for blunt force euthenasia when needed. Such persons should be on record and carefully monitored at all times. All too often it is done carelessly and with no regards or empathy, but if administered correctly I believe it is humane and quick. And sometimes very neccessary. ( And I love pigs ).

    • I’m sure there ARE some piglets born with deformities, but find it difficult to believe that entire litters (as shown in the video) were born with deformities and need to be “culled”. I find it interesting that the only opinion the AVMA states on blunt force trauma as a means of killing these intelligent, living beings is that it is “effective”. Well, YEAH, it’s effective…just as electrocuting them (a la michael vick), running them over with a tractor, or drowning them would be “effective”. It cannot, however, in any sensible way be deemed as acceptable as euthanasia by those who’ve promised to ensure humane treatment of those animals in their charge. There is no reason (beyond cost to the producer) that piglets could not be heavily sedated (using pain medications which do not have to go in a vein), then euthanized with solution injected in the abdomen (IP). Does it take more time, more training, more (DEA controlled) supplies? Well, yeah, but certainly it’s worth the cost considering the reduction in animal suffering it would produce.

  16. Evidently, Dr. Gail Golab “declines to answer” many of the legitimate criticisms and questions people have raised in this comments section. Either we are being deliberately ignored or she simply has no reasonable answers. For those who wonder at her lack of response, here is an interview she consented to last year after Mercy For Animals released its undercover investigation of Iowa Select Farms. Her answers and, more telling, her numerous “decline to answer” non-responses, will give many readers an idea of the public-relations nightmare this issue has become for the once-venerated AVMA.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/why-is-apparent-pig-abuse-ok-veterinary-group-explains

    Excerpt:

    Animal Policy Examiner (APE): Is tossing of piglets from one person to another, or onto the floor, approved by AVMA?

    GOLAB: AVMA does not have a specific policy regarding “tossing of piglets.” The AVMA Animal Welfare Principles, however apply to this practice (see: http://www.avma.org/issues/policy/animal_welfare/principles.asp) which state, “…Animals must be provided proper handling… Animals should be cared for in ways that minimize fear, pain, stress, and suffering. Procedures related to animal housing, management, care, and use should be continuously evaluated, and when indicated, refined or replaced…Animals shall be treated with respect and dignity throughout their lives…”

    APE: How about the use of blunt force trauma such as slamming piglets onto floor to kill the sick or injured? Is this approved?

    GOLAB: The use of manually applied blunt force trauma to the head is a conditionally acceptable method of euthanasia in the current edition of the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia (see: http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf ) “A blow to the head can be a humane method of euthanasia for neonatal animals with thin craniums, such as young pigs, if a single sharp blow delivered to the central skull bones with sufficient force can produce immediate depression of the central nervous system and destruction of brain tissue. When properly performed, loss of consciousness is rapid…”

    *****

    Perhaps, when “properly performed,” but does it follow AVMA’s aforementioned guideline: “Animals shall be treated with respect and dignity throughout their lives”?

  17. I cartainly have a very bad taste in my mouth regarding the opinions of AVMA. Previously I have always thought of veterinarians as leaders in animal welfare and supporters of humane animal practice but that has quickly dissolved. When AVMA came out strong in support of horse slaughter which is a horrific way to end a horse’s life (yes I have done my homework) I was very dismayed in their decision. It did not make sense to me. It seemed such a contradiction from the image that I had of AVMA and veterinarians in general. Now, this so called acceptable practice of killing piglets is appalling. What next AVMA? Instead of endorsing and supporting barbaric practices why aren’t you leaders in showing the population the humane way to respectfully end an animals life? By publicly supporting these grisley acceptable ways to end an animals life you are giving people the green light to behave irresponsibly. You aren’t educating them to take the responsible approach, you are saying hey, it is fine to send your horse to slaughter when you are done with it, or yeah, why not smash a baby pigs head into a wall. This is the US and it is 2012. Wake up and act like the country we are supposed to be. One who respects all life whether they walk on 2 legs or 4 legs. Also, why in the hell are we smashing suckling piglets heads in??? I know not all veterinarians endorse these practices. I cannot believe the whole unit has adopted this way of thinking. For those AVMA members who oppose slaughtering horses and bashing in pigs heads you need to come out now and say so. Join the voices of those who do not agree with this at all. AVMA has political clout and those members of AVMA who do not believe in this really needs to step up to the plate and speak out against it. We really need to hear your voices denouncing these barbaric acts against animals.

  18. More support for terrible animal cruelty from the AVMA. Not surprising, considering they also support the cruel and predatory horse slaughter industry…. The fact that these people are in charge of setting policy for the medical care my beloved animals receive chills me to the bone.

  19. The AVMA remind me of the physicians who supported the Gestapo and Nazis. Anything to be loyal to your Ag masters. Shame on you for abandoning animal welfare when you know that the brutal and unscientific act of slamming ANY creatures head on concrete is nothing but systematic abuse.

  20. well said Janet and other folks.

    Would the little pigglet’s make good pets? If the factory farmers need bood money so badly,why not sell the runts to folks who will take care of them as member’s of their families?

  21. It’s a great question, Wanda! When you have the American Veterinary Medical Association publishing guidelines on numerous methods (each more horrific than the last) of killing (they say “euthanize”) healthy, baby animals, then you begin to see the magnitude of the AVMA’s serious disconnect.

    Read their Euthanasia Guidelines and see for yourself: http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf

    These are the people–veterinarians–most people associate with healing and preventing the pain and suffering of injured, infirm, aged, or dying animals, when the truth is they are in bed with agribusiness and other animal-use industries. They just don’t have the courage or transparency to admit that it is not about the animals at all but of how best humans can use and profit off of them. It is utilitarianism at its worst. It is speciesism at its worst. It shames the very ideals of the profession as supposed animal healers, animal advocates, and animal protectors.

    I wonder if @Dr. Gail Golab will ever properly address any of our criticisms or concerns. How does AVMA justify killing healthy baby animals, Dr. Golab? Let me put it this way: Would you be shocked or horrified to learn that the American Medical Association approves and even prescribes several methods of killing healthy newborn human babies? Then, should the public NOT be shocked or horrified to learn that the American Veterinary Medical Association approves and even prescribes several methods of killing healthy newborn animals?

  22. Dumbfounded and stunned … how can this even be suggested by so called doctors who are supposed to care for others … humans or animals??? What kind of sick civilization are we living in???

  23. Everything always comes down to greed for money!
    Torture and blunt force trauma is cheaper than injecting or any other painless way of euthanasia.
    Why do these animals have to be killed anyway?
    Why can they not be allowed to live and thrive normally?

  24. I am horrified at the detailed instructions on how to murder innocent animals by the American Vetinary Medical Association. I thought better of them and now see that my thoughts were very mistaken. This is not an association that cars for the wellbeing of animals but another large organization trying to make money. I am disappointed in this organization and agree that the AVMA needs to re-think and change its procedures and practices in favor of all the animals.

  25. I too am horrified that a profession that presents itself to be healers of nonhumans actually engages in marketing and killing them – For profit driven industries at that! It’s bad enough that these livestock “doctors” actually eat their patients… But that they supervise in their slaughter on farms and on the kill floor of packing plants is even more contemptible. It’s unconscionable!

    Perhaps this is why the vast majority of students who seek a veterinarian career must be coaxed with tax-payer funded grants to pay off their student loans? Bribing them through their aspirations of compassion with “deals” to be a part of butchery. That’s sad! But what a cozy set up this Loan repayment program is! My vegan dollars are going to support future overseers and executioners! Seems like there’s not much that the avma won’t surrender to for monetary inducements.

    I don’t know that I can add anything more to what has already been eloquently stated in previous comments except to add these suggestions: The public certainly has a right to know that farmers and the avma destroy healthy and viable beings. From “runt” piglets, “undesirable” male calves to newly hatched male chicks… These realities may or may not influence buying habits. But, as animal ag and avma have demonstrated, since money is so paramount – No ethical organization would possibly deny a consumer their right to spend it as their conscience demanded. To have them unknowingly spend their money in support of practices they’d be opposed to is… Well, it’s theft.

    Finally, aside from continuing to educate the public about these thumping, crushing, poisoning, suffocating, electrocuting, gassing, shooting and beheading methods on farms… I suggest concerted efforts to educate one’s own veterinarians and to see what position they take. Almost 85% of households have nonhuman companions and consequently health care providers. Find out where your vet stands on these methods… Encourage your vet to truly care and respect these other-than-human species that they’ve dedicated their lives to helping. Guide your vet to the many reasons why their eating habits, their leather shoes, their choice of beauty aids and so on is contrary to what they profess to represent. If your vet is like mine – They will welcome your thoughts and gladly accept vegan literature… After 2 years of such conversations with my vet, and after she watched Forks Over Knives – She and her family live as “cruelty-free” as possible… At least that’s the way she phrased it.

    The short of it is – The avma isn’t going to budge without the financial incentives… It takes a lot of loud voices and redirection of consumer spending to accomplish this. If your vet won’t at least permit you to leave a stack of brochures meant to enlighten the public about the plight “farmed” animals are in… Find a vet that is! Don’t ever forget that they work FOR YOU!

  26. @Janet Weeks V
    Thank you, Janet. I am so disheartened by the AVMA’s position on animals who live their lives in such misery. Veterinarians are sworn to protect and relieve animal suffering. The AVMA needs to be reminded they are not sworn to protect the profits of agribusiness.

  27. @Amanda Katz
    Excellent comment, Amanda. Your reply most aptly hi-lights the moral vacuity of the AVMA attempt to distort and misdirect on this issue. The veterinarians of the AVMA need to be reminded of their oath. “Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.” This oath should supercede all profit motivations that result from the AVMA’s alliance with an industry which practices widespread and systemic abuse of animals.

  28. As I was raised on farm in Tn I find it amazing that vets could.care less about pigs horses and chickens
    The sad truth you are a vehicle of big at. SHAME ON THE AVMA.

  29. Dear AVMA – Thank you for posting this blog entry.  I get that the AVMA says a blow to the head is an acceptable form of euthasia for piglets because their skull bones are not fully formed yet.  The AVMA bloggers seem to think people don’t get what they are saying there, but I get it fully.  It is they who don’t understand questions of people like me and the general public.

    Janet Weeks raises the question of whether it is morally okay to kill an animal — that after all does have a life and an interest in living that life — simply because a CAFO decides that animal won’t be productive enough.  That is a legitimate question.  I have visited a farm in which the farmer took runts from the litters of factory farms, fed them scraps, and sold the compost. These animals were given a life and made economically useful at the same time.  There are other alternatives besides euthanasia.

    But leaving aside the ethical questions about whether it is okay to kill such animals in the first place, I have other practical questions about the euthanasia itself. 

    First, how is slamming a piglet on a concrete floor providing a humane blow to the head?  In this piece, the AVMA stresses several times that the blow must be administered in precisely the right way to be humane. 

    But when someone slams a piglet to a concrete floor, they are not using a blunt object to deliver the blow to the right place.  The concrete floor becomes the blunt object, and there is no telling how it will actually make contact with the piglet’s head.  It could be to the side, the top, the back, the front, the chin — and most of those methods would likely not kill the piglet immediately.  It often takes two or three of these blows for the piglet to die, and that is not humane in the slightest.  It is difficult to believe that the AVMA doesn’t understand these basic laws of physics.’

    Second question.  The AVMA stresses again in this blog entry that the personnel delivering the blow to the head must be properly trained and monitored.  However, do you honestly believe that a giant CAFO, with up to 10,000 pigs in one building, has enough employees and provides enough training and monitoring for them to do this properly??

    The entire object of CAFOs is to increase efficiency by reducing the number and skill level of employees.  I have been told by factory farmers that one person can easily manage 10,000 pigs.  One person!!  In practice, these are low-skill employees, many of which are illegal aliens, being forced to work at breakneck speeds with zero oversight. They are in no way equipped to deliver a humane, scientific form of euthanasia that you describe. 

    In fact, the situation you are endorsing, in which low-skilled, low-paid employees responsible for 10,000 animals and working at breakneck speeds, forced to do tasks such as piglet euthanasia which consists of slamming them to the concrete floor — that is a situation ripe for massive animal abuse.

    With an operation like this, it is no wonder that every single undercover investigation of a factory farm operation by an animal advocacy group has found massive and systematic abuse.  It is built into the system, part of how factory farms do business on a daily basis — and it is all approved by the AVMA, which provides cover with its “scientific” prescriptions for what in practice can only become rampant animal abuse.

    Third, this post brings up a new question.  It says the AVMA is searching for different ways to euthanize farm animals, then mentions carbon dioxide – i.e. the gas chamber.  This made my jaw drop.  The gas chamber is considered highly inhumane when used in animal shelters on cats and dogs.  How is it any more humane if used on pigs??  That makes no sense. 

    The only form of euthanasia I and most of the public could possibly see as humane for farm animals is the same as is used in pet shetlers — an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital administered by a trained professional.  This is what the AVMA itself calls for.  Why on earth are you endorsing these inhumane forms of euthanasia for farm animals?? 

    There is no moral difference between farm animals and dogs and cats.  Pigs are widely acknowledged to be as smart as dogs.  I’ve seen pigs trained to sit for their supper, just like dogs.  I’ve read stories of pigs (not on factory farms) who slip out of their gates at night to visit with other pigs, then go back in the morning.  These are intelligent creatures often kept as pets.

    The only reason I can see that the AVMA makes one recommendation for pet animals and one for food animals is that they are not at the service of the animals, but at the service of those paying the bill. The bill payers for pets are owners and guardians who love them and have their best interests at heart.  However, the bill payer for farm animals is big ag companies looking solely at maximizing their profits.  That’s it.  They aren’t moral or immoral — it’s just what corporations do. 

    Unfortunately, however, it is a system predicated on the hideous treatment of the animals it exploits, and the AVMA seems perfectly willing to condone these atrocities on the one hand while taking monetary handouts from it on the other.

    Again, the only conclusion I can come to is this: Shame shame shame on the AVMA.

    • I completely agree with you. And I think that if those pigs are “foodanimals”and the AVMA cant use the human euthanasia because of poisonus meat or it is expensive or whatever, i think that there are still some ways how to make the animals suffer less.because how do they know that some piglets have developed frontal bones and some dont??? i am sure that those “workers” didnt separate them, because they are sadistic bastards who with joy in the face made the pigs suffer. Well cant they just cut their heads off or something????? it is less physically difficult for the workers if the do it with axe or something, it still isnt like the best but the pig will sure die in the moment. But well, i think that the way of killing those animals really doesnt matter, because if they enjoy the killing, and seeing living beings suffering, they will always find a way to fullfill their sadistic games or i just cant find a name for those psychotic actions.The poor pigs and piglets showed there were suffering and their bodies were shaking for the whole minutes! But i think that those “workers” are actually happy and proud of what theyre doing, they enjoy throwing the little pigs to the ground, cut theyre parts of the body off alive, they enjoy the scream of those poor animals… people like this should be killed the same way, and i would be really glad to see them suffering and be like: oh yeah youre really right it is sooooo enjoyable to see you like this screaming for help… yeah any other species doesnt do that what the human can… and the veterinars who are to be the first fighting against this, just say that this is human….. congrats AVM, good for you.

    • AMANDA, WAY TO HAVE A VERY CLEAR ARGUMENT AND BRING UP FACTS NOT JUST VEGAN OPINIONS OR EMOTIONAL ISSUES. THO VERY DISTURBING INDEED THINGS WILL NOT CHANGE BY ANYONE SIMPLY SAYING IT’S SAD OR BOTHERSOME. THINGS GET CHANGED WHEN YOU MAKE PEOPLE SEE THE EROR OF THEIR WAYS AND PUT IN PLACE CORRECTIVE ACTIONS. THANK YOU FOR YOUR POST.

  30. Completely agree with Janet on this. I am also of the opinion that it’s only a “good death” when it isn’t yours.

  31. Remove all you want.

    Because 99% of us eat meat…me included..you folks who make policy hold all the cards.
    Hold all the cards and you can hold everyone hostage.

    With everyone hostage you can do whatever you want….whatever you can get by with.. …and call it ‘science’…
    Like we are all stupid.

    I feel sorrier for you guys than I do for the animals….

    Animals don’t have to answer for their actions.

  32. When AVMA updates its “Euthanasia Panel’s Report,” it would be well advised to remove from the finalized document the word “euthanasia,” and all the word’s derivations, as false and misleading. Substitute instead the word “killing.” “Euthanasia,” a word that means “good death,” does not apply in AVMA’s report because the report focuses on killing young, healthy animals who want to live, not those who are old, infirm, suffering, or dying. No death can be “good” or “humane” when the animal being “administered” the death wants to live.

    The “AVMA Guidelines on Euthansia,” June 2007, describes myriad horrific methods of killing otherwise healthy animals, not humane methods of killing sick, suffering, or dying animals. So, to repeatedly refer to these methods as euthanizing is a gross misuse of the term. When AVMA talks about effective ways to “euthanize nursing piglets,” for example, is there any question that the job it proposes and supports is the quick and relatively painless killing of young, otherwise perfectly healthy animals who may be considered surplus, too small, or uneconomically feasible by agribusiness and other animal-use industries? Newly hatched male chicks fall into this unfortunate category as well.

    Aren’t veterinarians supposed to be in the business of saving lives and eliminating or reducing existing pain and suffering? Common belief holds that veterinarians are to animals what doctors are to humans. Therefore, how does AVMA dare to sponsor and support the killing of healthy baby animals, who, if they had their druthers, would just as soon live long and healthy lives–just as humans would? A group of doctors would NEVER publish a report on myriad methods of killing healthy humans. Therefore, why would a group of veterinarians devise and endorse methods of killing healthy animals?

    Veterinarians are (or should be) in the business of healing and preventing needless suffering, pain, and death. A nursing piglet hardly qualifies as someone who is sick, suffering, or in pain (except for the pain caused by being prevented by iron bars from enjoying the tender care of his or her mother), or under threat of death (except by unfeeling humans).

    Furthermore, do not insult the public’s intelligence by making statements clearly meant to deceive such as “swine researchers are working hard to identify alternatives,” when AVMA know perfectly well that isn’t true. Piglets could receive an deadly injection and suffer far less brutality, trauma, and horror–but for the cost! The truth is, swine researchers and agribusiness veterinarians are scrambling to do damage control in reaction to harsh, ever-increasing public criticism to identify more publicly acceptable, economically feasible alternatives to slamming piglets’ heads to the cement to render them unconscious until they die of their gross, human-induced injuries. Now that the public knows and is horrified by agribusiness’ methods of killing baby animals, agribusiness is looking for viable options that won’t impact its profit margins. The key is economics–not animal compassion or welfare. I’m sick and tired of the lies and misrepresentations by so-called veterinarians endorsing myriad ways to kill healthy baby animals or animals others deem surplus or economically unfeasible. AVMA should quit lying, be truthful, or save their insulting attempts at damage control.

  33. The AVMA needs to really re-think it’s procedures and practices. The organization needs to remember about caring for animals, and not just CAFOs.