Humane killing of premature and day-old calves

Blunt trauma and bleeding out

This method must only be used for premature calves requiring immediate euthanasia or calves less than 24 hours old.

It requires a single firm blow to the front of the poll (see position 'b' in diagram) with a heavy blunt instrument. A short-handled club hammer, approximately 1.2kg with a striking face of 4cm x 4cm, is suitable.

The blow must be strong enough to fracture the skull and rapidly render the animal unconscious. The calf must be bled out immediately following the blow.

To ensure a humane death, you may only use this technique if you are sufficiently skilled. If you are not confident in your ability to deliver a blow of sufficient force, you must use another method.

Situations where the calf requires more than one blow to the head are unacceptable.

A diagram showing recommended position for impact point of a blow to the head in order to facilitate humane killing of calves A diagram showing the recommended position for impact point of a firearm or captive-bolt pistol to facilitate humane destruction of calves 

Bleeding out

Bleeding out involves severing the major blood vessels in the neck to allow free flow of blood.

To bleed out the animal:

  1. Make sure you use a sharp knife and make an incision at least 10cm long and 6cm deep in the neck.
  2. Make sure to cut both carotid arteries.
  3. Do not under any circumstances break or sever the spinal cord. This just causes more pain and also paralysis, which adds to the potential for stress.