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External trauma

Infant lambs, kids and piglets can be humanely killed by delivering a heavy blow to the head. This must only be used if no other method is immediately available.

There are two variations of this method:

  1. Hold the animal by the back legs and deliver a firm blow to the back of the head with a blunt instrument, e.g. an iron bar or hammer.
  2. Hold the animal by the back legs and swing it through an arc to hit the back of its head with considerable force against a solid object, e.g. a brick wall or metal stanchion.

With both methods it is essential that the blow is delivered swiftly, firmly and with absolute determination. If there is any doubt that the animal has not been killed effectively, the blow should be immediately repeated and/or death should be ensured by bleeding the animal: this can be done by cutting the throat from ear to ear to sever both carotid arteries and both jugular veins; alternatively, insert the knife into the base of the neck towards the entrance of the chest to sever all the major blood vessels where they emerge from the heart. More information: Bleeding.


The following video footage demonstrates how to perform this method:


Please note that this footage was filmed with animals that were already dead.

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