Times are changing in the way that we can dispose of large carcasses. Many rendering companies will not take animals that have been euthanized with euthanasia solution.
Below is a discussion, starting with humane euthanasia options:
Gunshot: For young animals, a .22 caliber long rifle solid point bullet from a pistol or a rifle will result in humane euthanasia if placed correctly. For older animals, use a 12, 16, or 20 gauge shotgun loaded with slugs or No. 2, 4, or 6 size bird shot.
Never shoot a cattle or horses between the eyes. Their brain cavity is higher up in the skull. Make sure to educate yourself in proper placement before proceeding with gunshot euthanasia.
Captive bolt: Captive bolts, applied in the same location as a gunshot, result in unconsciousness of the animal but not euthanasia.
In abattoirs, this is followed by exsanguination. In the field, it can be followed by potassium chloride or magnesium sulfate.
Potassium chloride or magnesium sulfate: Potassium chloride or magnesium sulfate can be given after the animal has been rendered unconscious by a captive bolt or with a xylazine/ketamine combination. This is what many veterinarians have moved to so that we are not limiting disposal methods.
Pentobarbital: Euthanasia solution has now fallen out of favor because of concerns with wildlife, water areas and not being able to render the carcass. If proper disposal is possible, pentobarbital is still a good option.
Below, we discuss proper disposal of the carcass:
Burial: If the animal is going to be buried, we can use any of the recognized humane methods to euthanize the animal. The first thing to do is to call before you dig by dialing 811. Next, avoid areas with sand and gravel.
The site should be a minimum of 1,000 feet away from water or a flood plain, 1,000 feet from an occupied dwelling, 1,000 feet from a well, 200 feet from a road or property boundary, and 20 feet above an aquifer.
Composting: If the animal is to be composted, euthasol should not be used in case wild animals eat some of the carcass as it is composting.
To start a compost, you need to lay down a carbon source such as sawdust or straw and then cover the carcass with it, add nitrogen (found in manure), water the pile, check the temperature so that it rises within the first 24 hours, and turn the pile to add oxygen when the temperature begins to drop.
Burning: If you burn the carcass, notify your local fire department first. Then select a site that is 1,000 feet or more from an occupied dwelling or flammable substance, only burn during the appropriate weather conditions, and monitor the smoke plume.
Rendering: Check with the rendering company that you want to use and see if they will accept animals that have been euthanized with euthanasia solution. Often times they will not accept them so you will have to euthanize with a different humane method.
The Vet Report is provided in conjunction with Prairie View Veterinary Clinic with locations in Miller, Redfield, Wessington Springs and Highmore, S.D. Questions? Write 321 E. 14th St., Miller, SD 57362.
Dr. Lainie Kringen-Scholtz is Associate Veterinarian at Animal Medical Care, based in Brookings, South Dakota.