Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder

Veterinary Handbook Contents

8.1 Decision Making For Seriously Sick Or Injured Livestock

Seriously sick and injured animals will be encountered occasionally in the live export process. There are four options for dealing with them:

  1. Treat,
  2. Slaughter for salvage value,
  3. Euthanase; or
  4. Monitor to see if condition changes.

This section provides information and checklists of key considerations to help decide which of the options is best under different circumstances. It is important to preface this section by stating that consideration must always be given to determine whether the level of pain and distress being experienced by the animal is sufficient to require prompt euthanasia.

There is a wide range of considerations upon which decisions can be based:

  • Level of pain and distress of the animal.
  • Ability to stand and walk.
  • Likelihood of recovery with and without treatment including:
    • Full recovery of intended purpose (i.e. milking, breeding, fattening for slaughter).
    • Partial recovery to a state suitable for salvage slaughter.
  • Accuracy of diagnosis and the nature and stage of disease.
  • Skill, time and facilities available to treat properly, including at further stages along the export process.
  • Length of drug withdrawal periods (are there antibiotic or chemical residues which exclude slaughter).
  • Opportunity cost of treatment (i.e. is time, money and effort best expended elsewhere?)
  • Availability of slaughter for salvage and the salvage value.
  • The likelihood of being condemned if sent for slaughter for salvage value.
  • Value of diagnostic information obtained from necropsy.
  • Availability of sufficient time for recovery before discharge at destination.
  • Ability to withstand further handling including transport (length of transport required from discharge port and likely weather conditions).
  • Likelihood of rejection by the importing country.
  • Availability and amount of insurance payable for sick and dead animals.
  • Risk to other animals and people.