Objective—To evaluate with CT the efficacy of various combinations of firearms and ammunitions to penetrate and disrupt the brain tissue of cadaveric heads of feedlot steers.
Sample—42 fresh cadaveric heads of 12- to 18-month-old Bos taurus steers.
Procedures—For each of 7 combinations of firearms and ammunitions (.22-caliber rifle firing a long rifle 30-grain plated lead solid- or hollow-point round, .223-caliber carbine firing a 50-grain ballistic-tip round, 9-mm pistol firing a 124-grain total metal jacket round, .45-caliber automatic Colt pistol [ACP] firing a 230-grain full metal jacket round, and 12-gauge shotgun firing a 2.75-inch 1.25-ounce No. 4 birdshot shell or a 1-ounce rifled slug), 6 cadaveric heads were shot at an identical distance (3 m), angle, and anatomic location. Heads were scanned with third-generation CT, and images were evaluated to determine extent of penetration, projectile fragmentation, cranial fracture, and likelihood of instantaneous death (≥ 30% destruction of brain tissue or a brainstem lesion).
Results—41 of 42 skulls were penetrated by the projectile. Instantaneous death was considered a likely consequence for 83% (25/30) of heads shot with a rifle-fired .22-caliber solid-point round, pistol-fired .45-caliber ACP round, carbine-fired .223-caliber round, and shotgun-fired birdshot and slug. Of the 18 heads shot with pistol-fired 9-mm and .45-caliber ACP rounds and rifle-fired .22-caliber hollow-point rounds, only 6 had brainstem lesions.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that gunshots delivered by all firearm-ammunition combinations except rifle-fired .22-caliber hollow-point rounds and pistol-fired 9-mm rounds were viable options for euthanasia of feedlot cattle.