Disabled Livestock

Comment on this policy

Disabled livestock must be handled humanely in all situations:

Ambulatory Animals

If an otherwise healthy animal has been recently injured, and the animal is ambulatory, it should be treated, shipped directly to a state or federally inspected slaughter plant, humanely slaughtered on the farm (where state laws permit), or euthanized. Injured, ambulatory animals should not be commingled with other animals during transport.

Care should be taken during loading, unloading, and handling of these animals to prevent further injury or stress.

Nonambulatory Animals

Nonambulatory animals may be moved using a sled, mat, cart or mechanized equipment that supports the full length and weight of the animal.  A nonambulatory animal should not be dragged or lifted by the limbs, tail, neck or ears. However, extreme situations in which time is of the essence to save the life of an animal or to prevent human injury, may require handling techniques that cause temporary discomfort to the animal. Slings or hip lifts maybe used to lift or position an animal onto a mat or sled, but should not be used to move the animal. We recommend that each animal operation works with their veterinarian to have a written protocol in place for the movement and care of injured and non-ambulatory animals.  Employees must be trained in these protocols with retraining on an incremental basis.

If an animal is down on a farm

  • If the animal is not in extreme distress and continues to eat and drink, the producer should contact their veterinarian for consultation and/or treatment and provide food, water, and appropriate shelter and nursing care to keep the animal comfortable and prevent further injury.
  • If the animal is in extreme distress and the condition is obviously irreversible, the animal should be euthanized immediately or humanely slaughtered on the farm (where state laws permit).

If an animal is down at a nonterminal market (e.g., sale yard or auction)

  • If the animal is not in extreme distress, but is disabled, treatment measures should be initiated.
  • If the animal is in extreme distress or the condition is obviously irreversible, the animal should be euthanized immediately.

If an animal is down at a terminal market (e.g., slaughterhouse or packing plant)

Animals that are down should be euthanized immediately and not taken to slaughter. However, if swine are down, and are not in extreme distress or do not have an obviously irreversible condition, they may be allowed up to 2 hours to recover. Acceptable interventions to assist in this recovery include rest, cooling, or other treatments that do not create violative drug residue concerns.