In-colony guinea pig dispatchment & processing

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Oct 10, 2017
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If you watch videos such as those produced by Oz The Kiwi homekill guy, You will learn that when it comes to the harvesting of herd based meat animals, it can be less stressful to dispatch inside the herd as opposed to removing the animal before killing it. To the uninitiated, it sounds odd that killing an animal in-herd will not stress out the surviving herd members. Homekill guy has made many videos demonstrating the process. He shows that herd members are oblivious to the death. Understand that I am only talking about domesticated food animals.

The lack of stress could be attributed to a few factors, including animals domesticated for food are less intelligent and do not comprehend death and/or are not able to imagine themselves in place of other animals. Also, the lack of stress could be explained as part of the domestication process. Domestication involves selective breeding. Individuals that were constantly being stressed-out were culled or died before they could contribute genetically. Animals that did well even as their fellow herd-mates were being culled were favored in the domestication process.

Going back to the idea of raising guinea pigs for meat, I have been using David's herd as a test bed for my own possible future herd. Sometimes GPs are killed in-shed and sometimes they are placed live in a bucket and dispatched elsewhere. Confined GPs tend not to exhibit there natural behavior This has lead me to favor in-herd dispatchment, if I were to get my own herd.

As I stated in my early posts, David's GPs are herd-raised and are not handled regularly. To hold an animal, I must chase and catch. I have found a small net to be the perfect tool. I find the net less stressful than hand catching, especially for a "lethal catch". As soon as I get the net and prepare to catch, the "mood in the room" changes and the GPs will hide under boxes or cluster in the corners of the room. All eyes are on me. It is odd however if during a "catching session" there is a lull in my movement, such as I pause to evaluate the herd, the GPs will also relax just a bit. During a lull there were times when the males will chatter and "court" females. I have even seen mating during a lull. On those occasions where I preform the kill, the GPs watch me do the act. I prefer to hold the animal until the carcass goes completely still, this allows me to be sure the death goes well. Because I wanted to get sense of the herd's respond to the killing, I will sometimes place the fresh carcass on clean hay on the floor. The usual responses is to ignore the dead herd member, although the carcass will get the occasional sniff.

I once left the carcass in the shed and returned five minutes later with fresh leaves and grass. When I opened the door, I was greeted with squeals of delight. The GPs ran around the body to get to the fresh food. Some actually walked on top of it, to get to the food. What I did find unexpected was, when I picked picked up the carcass, the herd reacted as if I had just captures a new guinea pig even though it had been dead 10 minutes. This sort of explains what happened this last summer.

Last summer it was quite warm outside. David uses an air conditioning unit to keep his feeder herd productive during summer months. Because of the heat, I decided to do my test skinning (carcass fed to non-picky eaters) inside the cooler shed. As I worked on the carcass, I first noticed the GPs making sounds similar to those during the chase. Because I was busy working on the carcass I did not notice at first, but the GPs were clustering in the corners like if I were chasing them even though I was not. They acted more stressed than if I were simply walking around.

This reaction has lead me to reevaluate some ideas I previously had about building a GP setup. In my Post about Meat Guinea Pigs, I said the following ...

Ghost":2ewlqdaq said:
If I were to get my own guinea pig herd, I would build a shed for them to stay at night. I would build the meat processing station including a utility sink inside the shed. [snip] As I have stated before the GPs are not bothered by there fallen herd-mates.

I'm now not sure I would recommend such a setup. I am wondering if it is purely visual or if somehow they might be smelling something as I was working on the carcass. The GPs do calm quickly after a cull, but I still don't want to keep them at a high stress longer than needed.


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Piney Flats ,Tn.
I have noticed, .. many animals react to the "smell of death", more than they do, "the actual kill". Skinning, would release much more "smell of death" than the blood from a kill. If the animal is killed in a way that releases no blood -IE "cervical dislocation" The lack of "herd response", make sense to me...
Because I noticed this behavior ...In my Rabbit raising, I chose to have a kill room, or butcher station apart from , or partitioned from, the rabbitry. Even though I may Kill the rabbits in the rabbitry [cervical dislocation ] I always skin, and gut them, in another area. The rabbits stay calm, this way...
When i raised rabbits in a colony, I used a 22,or pellet gun, to dispatch, selected rabbits.
Unless I did a sloppy job, there was no reaction at all from the remaining rabbits, after the first reaction to the noise of the shot being fired ..

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