Basic Stockperson Post Mortem Procedure


The following illustrates the basic procedure for a postmortem examination of a pig. The procedure described assumes the stockperson to be right handed.

It is useful to carry out this procedure with a veterinarian initially so you can agree on the procedure.  Once the pictures are taken they can then be emailed to your veterinarian for review.  Use a water proof camera and try to ensure that the pictures are in-focus. Do not take too detailed a picture initially it is vital that the veterinarian is provided with an adequate overview of the pig being examined.

While stockpeople do an excellent job if possible ask your veterinarian to carry out the postmortem.

Be extremely careful about knives.  Ensure that they are sharp before starting the postmortem.  Wear gloves and take personal precautions.  Always wash your hands after the postmortem.


Select an area where the postmortem can take place where it is not too visible and biosecurity can be maintained. Above is not adequate.

Place the dead pig in lateral recumbency.  Note the sex, body condition and weight.

Photograph the pig. If a sow look for discharges

Cut into the inside to the armpits to make the front legs lay flat

Make deep incisions into the groin on the left and the right leg. Cut all the way down to the joint allowing the leg to lie flat Lay the animal out on its back 

Make a deep transverse cut into the throat

Stand on the left.  On the right hand chest make a cut along the rib cage

Continue the cut under the skin towards the groin area. Place the sharp edge under the skin

Return to the chest the cut though the right rib junctions

Lay the ventral body wall over to the left side to reveal the visceral contents

Photograph the animal as shown with the chest and abdomen open

Photograph the chest in more detail

Photograph the abdomen in more detail

Remove the chest contents and photograph the lungs

Open up the stomach to look for a gastric ulcer



Photograph any abnormality that is obvious in the abdomen or elsewhere in/on the pig