Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Even distasteful jobs deserve to be done well

When using a firearm the projectile must reach the brain to ensure euthanasia. Hence, operators must be able to use anatomic landmarks to localize the brain and aim the discharge. The point of entry of the projectile should be at the intersection of 2 imaginary lines, each drawn from the outside corner of the eye to the center of the base of the opposite horn. Never shoot between the eyes. Source

One of the more dangerous chores on the farm is when we have to euthanize an animal.

Large livestock can be incredibly powerful, even when sick. Having 1600 pounds of animal fall on you or lunge and throw you through a wall will change your life.

The direction of the shot should be perpendicular to the plane of the skull so the slug does not deflect

If you are doing-the-deed in a building with concrete floors/walls, consider using soft-points to minimize pass-throughs. Soft-points also give you a little bit of margin with regard to damaging brain tissue if your aim is slightly off.

Have an attendant at-the-ready to step in if things go south.

Images show where to make saw-cuts to expose the brain for post-mortems. This is the best picture I could find to show where a horse brain resides.


  1. I have a friend who used to work in a slaughterhouse, and ran the bolt gun. Dangerous work.

  2. gee , I didn't think the horses brain was THAT big.

  3. After an unnecessarily messy kill one time I now use my .357 revolver for the benefit of quick painless death . Unfortunately it will sometimes blow the eyeballs out 5 or 6 inches hanging from the optical chords . Gross but they never even twitch after that soft point goes in . I do hate to kill anything though and it is always hard on me .

  4. I have dispatched a fair number of bovines over the years. If your shot placement is perfect, you can do it with a .22. However, after one particularly unpleasant cow euthanasia that required me to shoot her 5 times, I now use .45 acp to do the deed for anything larger than a calf.

  5. Like Robert I hate to kill anything anymore and stopped raising livestock because by the time they were grown up enough to eat they had become my pet. Now even my chickens die of old age. It's been over 20 years since I home butchered my own animals and sold my commercial meat saw. On the few occasions when I've done it for a friend for meat or euthanize I've used a 45 or .357 as those always work instantly for me. . ---ken

  6. Knowledge of the intended victims anatomy is imperative. Most people have poor knowledge of human anatomy....and almost zero knowledge of the anatomy of most common animals.

  7. Thanks for the post. Good info. I cottoned on to the X landmarks when I was younger. Works perfectly on most NA species I've dealt with.

    That line in To Kill a Mockingbird seemed to apply to me: There are men that here to do the distasteful work others won't. I've put down a lot of wounded, broken, sick animals. Not sure if I have a mark on me or not, but if it needs doing, I get asked first seems like.

    My father in law taught me how to butcher goats. I've done a number of them. I tried an old black powder derringer once. What a mess. Not only did it penetrate to the neck, the sulfurous smell put me off, and I was queasy during the work. No fun. Made me wonder what a field hospital smelled like in those days.


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