Coping with euthanasia related stress: Part two

How to deal with the stress caused by euthanasia of your swine.

As spoke about in part one of this Michigan State University Extension series euthanasia can be hard on the stock person not just the animal. The proper technique is critical to this task if done incorrectly the stock person can be under a lot of stress.

When dealing with the difficult but necessary task of euthanasia, it is very important, that managers create a barn culture where the stockpersons feel comfortable voicing their attitudes and those who are unwilling to perform euthanasia procedures on pigs should not be forced to do so. Farm managers should observe their stockpeople for signs of this aversion or reluctant exposure to euthanasia, especially signs of dissatisfaction with the work or careless handling of pigs.

Individually, we all find ways of coping with the stress of euthanasia. A number of studies have indicated the possible ways that employees and stockpersons can manage the stress that comes with euthanasia:

  • Separate or avoid euthanasia tasks from people who find discomfort in the job.   
  • Wry humor
  • Recognition that euthanasia is humane, necessary and important to all farm employees
  • Training more so that the euthanasia was done well to gain competence and confidence when performing the task.
  • Calling to a moral obligation to “do it correctly.” This makes it easier on the employees and the animals.

Advances in science and technology continually provide new opportunities as well as new products, equipment and techniques for the swine industry. These advancements in the industry have made the job of a stockperson less stressful when it comes to euthanasia. While the recognition of a sick animal may seem like “second nature” to some, it is not to others. Through proper training the stockperson can establish on-farm protocols, decision trees, and “rules of thumb” on making the best decisions around euthanasia when the pig has little or no chance of recovery. 


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