Animal euthanasia isn’t a very happy subject, but it is a fact of life. Animals are euthanized every day for food, rendering, medical research and in animal shelters. The goal everyone shares – from the farmer to the scientist to the consumer - is to make euthanasia as painless as possible for the animal.
In the case of piglet euthanasia, blunt-force trauma to the head has long been the accepted standard in swine facilities. Despite its appearance, it can be an effective way to euthanize nursing piglets. However, it must be performed expertly by trained personnel. If not done correctly, it is neither effective nor humane.
As an alternative to blunt-force trauma, carbon dioxide gas is increasingly becoming an accepted standard for animal euthanasia. Under controlled laboratory conditions, CO2 is both humane and effective. However, CO2 is still not a perfect solution. For example, too high a CO2 level too quickly generally results in panic or convulsions.
A recent study released by the USDA using the iSense 30% CO2 & 25% Oxygen Data Logger tested a method of gas euthanasia using first a mixture of nitrous oxide (N20) and oxygen to anesthetize the animals, and later carbon dioxide to euthanize them. The study concluded that although it took longer, a two-step procedure in which the piglets were first anesthetized before being euthanized may prove to be more humane that carbon dioxide alone.
As a side note, the study highlighted the fact that our Senseair CO2 sensors and Winsense Oxygen sensors are more immune than other NDIR sensors to cross-sensitivity to other gases like nitrous oxide.