Investigating strategies in training swine caretakers for psychological well-being and Mexican swine caretakers’ attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions toward euthanasia

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Yarian, Jacob
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Johnson, Anna K
Ross, Jason W
Skaar, Brad R
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Animal Science
In the United States (U.S.) swine industry, euthanasia in the breeding herd can be a daily occurrence that may result in caretaker euthanasia-related strain. The U.S. swine industry includes the “how to” and “what to expect” along with “euthanasia considerations related to cost, ease, aesthetics and reliability” in their current euthanasia documentation. However, it remains unclear how conducting euthanasia routinely affects the U.S. swine caretaker emotionally. It has been recommended that pre-employment euthanasia training include how the body and brain react during the dying process and that this information is delivered in the caretakers’ learning style and language. This later consideration is of utmost importance because Hispanic and Latino workers represent a large sector of the U.S. agricultural workforce. Therefore, two goals were identified: (1) to create euthanasia training tools to support caretaker psychological well-being and, (2) to understand and describe current Mexican swine caretakers’ perceptions on swine euthanasia. To achieve these goals, two research chapters were created. There is no published literature using the Predictive Index (PI) Behavioral Assessment to design swine euthanasia training based on the caretakers’ PI profile and how it may influence caretaker psychological well-being. Therefore, swine euthanasia training modules based on the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment and surveys were created so that future work can determine if this PI training tool is able to reduce psychological euthanasia-related strain. Furthermore, with the dearth of literature on Mexican swine caretakers’ euthanasia perceptions in the U.S., Mexican caretaker demographics and attitudes toward swine and swine euthanasia were investigated. Our data indicates that Mexican caretakers on TN visas are confident and knowledgeable in diagnosing sick or compromised pigs and piglets, deciding to euthanize pigs and piglets, and subsequently performing euthanasia on both pigs and piglets. Additionally, differences between caretakers’ perceptions on pigs and piglets were minimal, and categorizations between males and females and those ≤30 years old and >30 years old were similar. These research results add to a vital body of literature about Mexican swine caretakers’ euthanasia perceptions and experiences. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that caretakers on TN visas are a competent and effective labor source, that are confident and comfortable in performing euthanasia and identifying sick pigs and piglets. This is encouraging as this important worker population may be considered to help alleviate domestic swine labor shortages due to their educational background in animal care.