OBJECTIVE To validate the effectiveness of a penetrating captive bolt device with a built-in low-pressure air channel pithing mechanism (PCBD) as a 1-step method for euthanasia of cattle.
DESIGN Clinical trial.
ANIMALS 66 feedlot steers and heifers (weight, 227 to 500 kg [500 to 1,100 lb]) that were not expected to survive or finish the feeding period with their cohorts.
PROCEDURES Cattle were transported to a university facility and euthanized with the PCBD. For each calf, clinical variables were monitored and recorded immediately before and for at least 10 minutes after application of the PCBD. Following euthanasia, the head of each calf was removed and trauma to the brain and skull was assessed and scored.
RESULTS Death was successfully achieved with the PCBD without application of an ancillary technique in all 66 cattle; however, 4 (6%) cattle required a second or third shot from the PCBD because of technical errors in its placement. All shots from the PCBD that entered the cranial vault successfully rendered cattle unconscious without a return to sensibility.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that the PCBD was an effective 1-step method of euthanasia for use in mass depopulation of feedlot cattle.