Slaughter versus euthanasia: What's a vet to do?
It’s common for me to ponder the ways we euthanize animals. That’s because I’m always looking for the ideal version of “beautiful death.” With each creature I euthanize—beloved rabbits, injured birds, stray cats or well-loved dogs—I really do try my best to make it the most peaceful experience modern drugs can manage.
Because I’m working hard to fatten up my darling doeling Tulip (see how cute, above) for breeding and milking, I’ve been deeply contemplating my options for her babes. If I must get her pregnant before I can milk her then it stands to reason I should prepare for her offspring, right?
To that end I’ve been wondering whether I should keep, sell or slaughter the babes.
Goats can have up to three kids at a time. Tulip came from a triplet-throwing doe, which means she’s more likely to bear more of the same. That’s why I’m prepping for a threesome. In that event, the odds are in favor of at least one male.
Girls? I’ll keep ‘em to milk in the future.
Boys? They’re going. They’ll either be sold to those who would raise them for slaughter or I’ll raise them myself—for slaughter.
So you know, I really don’t relish the concept of raising a supremely adorable animal for meat. Though I eat meat infrequently and carefully, choosing my sources wisely (I think), I’m a believer in the concept of slaughter for human consumption.
As a result, I feel I should buck up and be able to slaughter my own. After all, who better than ME to ensure my animals were handled humanely? If I sold them and entrusted them to another, how would I know they were treated as well as I would if they were in my hands?
Problem is, I don’t know if I can handle it. I’m pretty sensitive (reference my post on veterinarian suicide for more evidence of stress). I don’t know if I can take a captive bolt device (a gun with instantaneous shock power) and flick it at their heads before I bleed them dry. I’m just not sure I have it in me.
Not only do I suffer from knowing that someone else might do it less humanely than I would, I also stress about the fact of doing it at all. And if I can’t slaughter my own Tulip’s babies, does this mean I shouldn’t accept their slaughter at all?
And yet I can’t completely reconcile this with my belief in animal use and my acceptance of animal meat and products for human consumption. It’s a conundrum for sure.
That’s why I’ve been looking into various alternatives for acceptable slaughter techniques, hoping they’ll remind me more of what I do on a regular basis in the office:
1-Compressed carbon dioxide? Ouch! They don’t die pretty. But I can get a portable unit for $2,500 if I want one.
2-Compressed carbon monoxide? We can’t eat the meat afterwards. (Same goes for all the traditional lethal injection methods we use in pets.)
3-How about nitrous oxide? Too expensive. But it does work nicely.
4-Nitrogen and argon gas? Hmmm…this one I’m investigating. It’s fast, painless and doesn’t damage the meat or introduce dangerous chemicals. It’s being used in some Danish poultry plants and the reports are glowing.
Problem is, I haven’t yet found any reports for its use in anything but large facilities for chickens. What would I do? Buy a tank and put a mask over their faces? Construct a chamber? If any of you know more than I do, I’d love to pick your brain on this subject.
Yet even if I find the ideal recipe for euthanasia/slaughter, will I be able to do it on my own to my own creatures? I’m starting to think I’ll have to. If I can’t kill my own meat, how can I face down the next goat curry…or a barbecued chicken wing? How could I even drink milk or consume eggs?
Nope. I’ll have to do it myself. Luckily I have another year before I have to face up to the imminent reality of doing so.