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Use of on-farm emergency slaughter for dairy cows in British Columbia
- Koralesky, Katherine E., Fraser, David
- Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.7 pp. 6413-6418
- calving, dairy cows, farms, guidelines, hemorrhage, hips, lameness, meat, nerve tissue, slaughter, slaughterhouses, transportation, British Columbia
- On-farm emergency slaughter (OFES), whereby inspection, stunning, and bleeding occur on the farm before the carcass is transported to a slaughterhouse, is permitted in some jurisdictions as a means to avoid inhumane transportation while salvaging meat from injured animals. However, OFES is controversial and its use for dairy cows has been little studied. Inspection documents for 812 dairy cows were examined to identify how OFES was used for dairy cows in British Columbia, Canada, over 16.5 mo. Producers used OFES for dairy cows aged 1 to 13 yr (median of 4 yr). Leg, hip, nerve, spinal, foot, and hind-end injuries or conditions (in that order) were the most common reasons for OFES, and some cases may have been a consequence of calving. Foot conditions were disproportionately common among cows 5 yr and older, and hind-end conditions were disproportionately common among cows 6 yr and older. Producers used OFES promptly after traumatic injury (within 1 d) for some cows, but OFES was delayed for others, sometimes until cows had been nonambulatory for 2 to 6 d. In some cases, OFES was used for nontraumatic chronic conditions, such as lameness and hind-end weakness, rather than traumatic injuries such as fractures and dislocated hips. Use of OFES appears to conform to the purpose of the program when used promptly after traumatic injuries, but clear guidelines are needed to avoid inappropriate use and delays that may prolong animal suffering.