Death in the feedlot

Good evening folks! After reading a post by Diana Prichard ( @diana_prichard), I wanted to share my own experiences with death and euthanasia. 
First off, death is something that no decent human being takes lightly. Farmers and ranchers are no different. When an animal passes, it is something we take very personally and it affects us deeply. In the feedlot where I work, out death loss runs between 0.3 and 0.5%. This percentage is phenomenal, buts its important to remember that those are lives lost that had an opportunity to serve a purpose. The majority of these deaths are unexpected and die suddenly. They consist primarily of bloats, chronic pneumonia’s, and in the summer months, AIPs. 
The hardest ones to handle are the ones that must be euthanized. These are the animals that we pour everything we have into trying to save them. We spend hours, days, and sometimes even months treating their condition with antibiotics, getting them up, and caring for them. If they are still mobile, we get them up and walk them to feed and water. We rehabilitate them, and we give them a good scratch beside their tail head so they know we care. If they aren’t mobile, we bring them feed and water, turn them a few times daily, and they still get the scratch, because we still care. 
Euthanasia is the hardest part of any farmer or ranchers job. When determining when to euthanize an animal, COST AND CONVENIENCE ARE NOT A FACTOR!!!! The sole deciding factor for euthanasia is suffering. If an animal can’t have the quality of life it deserves, it must be euthanized. If an animal is in pain that can’t be mitigated, or if it suffers from an affliction that cannot be treated with medication or rehabilitation, we will euthanize it. We look at its weight, body condition, and overall demeanour and appearance to determine its progress. If the poor guy looks sick and in pain, and continually loses weight, then he has to go to sleep. 
When we have to euthanize an animal, our goal is an immediate and painless death. This is best achieved with a firearm. A bullet properly placed in the brain will result in immediate death. Personally, I’ve used lethal injection in the past and it is not pleasant for me or more importantly, the animal. They experience a few minutes of agony before passing and it is extremely painful, both to watch and experience. The goal of euthanasia is to be a release, not a climax, to the animals suffering. 
Before I close this, I want to talk about the animals we save because they are what make it all worthwhile. Most of the time, the extra effort pays off, and it is the best feeling in the world. Because of the close contact and the positive work required to treat these animals, when the recover, they are the friendliest animals you’d ever meet. For the rest of their lives, they are confident and comfortable around their caretakers and usually perform quite well. It is truly amazing to see how an animal responds to a little TLC. 

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One thought on “Death in the feedlot

  1. Pingback: Show your support for Animal Care Officer Dafna Hadad | Sunset Daily

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