Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Electrocution as an alternative euthanasia method to blunt force trauma to the head followed by exsanguination for non-viable piglets

On farms, the currently approved and most widely practised method of euthanising non-viable piglets is blunt force trauma to the head followed by exsanguination. However, the use of this method is criticised due to public perceptions and aversion to the methodology by caretakers. Therefore, electrocution after electrical stunning was examined as an alternative approach in 80 hybrid piglets. Initially, electrocution was simulated with fnite element analysis using a computer piglet-model, where current density in the heart was visualised and size and position of the electrodes were defned. The following step investigated electrical parameters for electrocution in anaesthetised piglets; frst, with a constant voltage power source and then with a constant current power source. The electrical stunning was examined using the constant current supply. Finally, the results of electrical stunning and electrocution were verifed in 25 healthy piglets with a body weight between 1 and 2 kg. Unconsciousness was proven by testing palpebral, corneal and nociceptive refexes. Time of death was confrmed by electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiography (ECG) records.

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