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To assess the extent of damage to the skull and brain of cadaveric dairy goat kids caused by a .22-caliber, 16-g pellet fired from a multipump air pistol at various power levels.


Cadavers of 8 male and 7 female dairy goat kids ≤ 5 days old.


Each cadaver was positioned in sternal recumbency with the head and neck extended on a straw bale. A multipump air pistol was held with the barrel perpendicular to and 2.5 cm from the head at the intersection of 2 imaginary lines that extended from the lateral canthus of each eye to the middle of the contralateral ear base and fired at half (5 pumps; n = 2), intermediate (7 pumps; 2), or full (10 pumps; 11) power. The head and neck were removed from the carcass for CT imaging and gross sectioning to determine the location of the pellet and extent of damage caused to the skull and brain.


The pellet successfully penetrated the skull of all 13 heads shot at full or intermediate power and 1 of the 2 heads shot at half power. The pellet did not fragment after entering the skull of any cadaver and penetrated the brainstem (necessary for instantaneous death) in only 7 cadavers.


The described technique was insufficient for use as a stand-alone method for euthanizing young dairy goat kids. Modification of the technique warrants further research to determine whether air pistols can be used to effectively euthanize young goat kids.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research