The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board has developed its first set of proposed standards regarding farm animal welfare, pursuant to the constitutional amendment passed last year by Ohio voters as Issue 2.
The Livestock Care Standards Board unanimously approved standards regarding euthanasia of farm animals, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) will now carry the Board’s proposed standards through the administrative rulemaking process.
The proposed standards define acceptable methods of euthanasia, which includes inhalant agents, injectable agents, captive bolt guns, blunt force, gunshot, cervical dislocation, decapitation, electrocution, foam hypoxia, maceration and exsanguination. The proposal establishes different acceptable methods and guidelines for different species, which includes equine, poultry, swine, cattle, goats, sheep, alpaca and llamas. Provisions also address general considerations for performing euthansia, such as euthanization of animals unlikely to recover from illness or injury, determination of death, unsuccessful euthanasia, disposal of animals and mass euthanasia. The rule references a civil penalty provision for violations, but the actual civil penalty provision is still under development by the Board.
Interesting to note is how the proposed euthanasia rule relates to the animal welfare agreement entered into last June by the State of Ohio, Humane Society of the United States, Ohio Farm Bureau and several other agricultural organizations. Regarding euthanasia, the animal welfare agreement states:
“Recommendations will be made to The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (OLCSB) to take action on issues related to downer cattle and humane euthanasia using language consistent with the proposed ballot initiative.”
The proposed ballot initiative referred to in the animal welfare agreement is the HSUS-led initiative that could have been on the upcoming November ballot, but was pulled as part of HSUS’s compromise in the animal welfare agreement. The ballot initiative proposed amending the Ohio Constitution to include this language on euthanasia:
“Require a farm owner or operator to ensure that all on-farm killing of cows or pigs be performed in a humane manner using methods explicitly deemed “Acceptable” by the American Veterinary Medical Association. This standard shall also include a prohibition on strangulation of cows and pigs as a form of euthanasia.”
Note that the animal welfare agreement does not require the adoption of the ballot initiative language in the euthanasia standards; it states only that “recommendations will be made” to the Board to take action using language consistent with the proposed ballot language. A review of the record available on the Board’s website does not indicate whether any party to the animal welfare agreement made such recommendations to the Board.
The Board had already begun working on the euthanasia standards prior to the announcement of the animal welfare agreement in June. A review of the Board’s proposal, however, indicates that the euthanasia standards do not precisely duplicate the HSUS’s proposed ballot language. The standards don’t include a specific prohibition against strangulation of cows and pigs. Instead, the standards do not list strangulation as an acceptable method of euthanasia. Nor do the standards specifically reference the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) acceptable standards; but many of the Board’s acceptable standards are similar to AVMA acceptable standards. Whether or not recommendations were made to the Board as promised in the animal welfare agreement, the Board’s proposed euthanasia standards do appear to be “consistent with” the ballot initiative language on euthanasia.
ODA will accept comments on the standards until October 20, 2010. Following review of comments, ODA will submit the package to the joint legislative committee that oversees the administrative rulemaking process. To view the proposed euthanasia standards, visit the ODA website,