Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: Complete our 2-minute survey and tell us what information you need to help your business during COVID-19. Find assistance and support for coronavirus affected businesses and industries.

Humane killing of sheep

Humane killing of sheep over 6 months old

To humanely kill a sheep over 6 months old:

  • use a firearm
  • stun with a captive bolt then immediately bleed out
  • give a lethal injection
  • bleed it out.

A firearm should deliver at least the muzzle energy of a standard 0.22 long rifle cartridge. After stunning with a captive bolt the animal must be bled out immediately to ensure death.

Position of rifle or captive bolt

For polled sheep, position the rifle or captive bolt in the midline on the highest point of the head, and aim straight down towards the angle of the jaw.

A diagram of a polled sheep with an arrow indicating where to position the firearm or captive bolt

For horned sheep, position the rifle or captive bolt in the middle just behind the bony ridge between the horns, and aim towards the back of the throat. It is very important to bleed sheep immediately after using this position as they may otherwise regain consciousness.

A diagram of a horned sheep with an arrow indicating where to position the firearm or captive bolt

Bleeding out only

Preferably sheep should be stunned by captive bolt before bleeding out; however, bleeding out alone can be used in an emergency.

To bleed out the animal:

  1. Make sure you use a sharp knife at least 6 inches (15 cm) long.
  2. Make sure you 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.

Humane killing of lambs

To humanely kill a lamb of any age:

  • use a firearm
  • stun with a captive bolt then immediately bleed out
  • give a lethal injection
  • bleed it out.

Blunt trauma should only be used when there is no other recommended option and must only be used on newborn lambs that are less than 24 hours old. Then immediately bleed out the lamb, while it is unconscious, to ensure death.

Also consider...