Objective—To examine the feasibility of depopulation of a large feedlot during a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in the United States.
Design—Delphi survey followed by facilitated discussion.
Sample—27 experts, including veterinary toxicologists and pharmacologists, animal welfare experts, feedlot managers, and consulting veterinarians.
Procedures—4 veterinary pharmacologists, 5 veterinary toxicologists, 4 animal welfare experts, 26 consulting veterinarians, and 8 feedlot managers were invited to participate in a Delphi survey to identify methods for depopulation of a large feedlot during an FMD outbreak. A facilitated discussion that included 1 pharmacologist, 1 toxicologist, 1 animal welfare expert, 2 consulting veterinarians, and 2 feedlot managers was held to review the survey results.
Results—27 of 47 invited experts participated in the Delphi survey. Survey consensus was that, although several toxic agents would effectively cause acute death in a large number of animals, all of them had substantial animal welfare concerns. Pentobarbital sodium administered IV was considered the most effective pharmacological agent for euthanasia, and xylazine was considered the most effective sedative. Animal welfare concerns following administration of a euthanasia solution IV or a penetrating captive bolt were minimal; however, both veterinarians and feedlot managers felt that use of a captive bolt would be inefficient for depopulation. Veterinarians were extremely concerned about public perception, human safety, and timely depopulation of a large feedlot during an FMD outbreak.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Depopulation of a large feedlot during an FMD outbreak would be difficult to complete in a humane and timely fashion.