How to Neuter (Castrate) Ruminant Male Animals: Risks and Benefits

How to Neuter (Castrate) Ruminant Male Animals: Risks and Benefits

To neuter (castrate) , popularly referred to as ”Castration or neutering ”,  is the removal or inactivation of the testicles of a male animal or it can also be defined as the destruction or removal of the testicles of the male which is carried out on animals which are not wanted for breeding.

For those searching for neutering near me, Castration is a common management tool in the beef cattle sector and other ruminant animal sectors for many reasons, including to:

  • Stop the production of male hormones
  • Prevent unplanned mating
  • Decrease aggression to enhance on-farm safety for handlers and animals
  • Obtain price premiums and/or avoid price discounts from feedlots and meat packers
  • Produce meat with a consistent quality acceptable to consumers (i.e. higher grade, better marbling)
  • Decrease costs of managing bulls (i.e. larger, stronger facilities)

Benefits of Neutering (Castration)

First and foremost, let us start by discussing the benefits of castrating your male ruminant animals. There are two major reasons why castration is done:

First is to prevent the male from involving in mating activities with the female and secondly, to make the animal get fattened up on time.

It is beneficial because the castrated male animal will then make use of all of its energy on building muscles and not for sexual activities which is a plus in fattening also, in case a male animal has a congenital abnormality castration will prevent it from transmitting the condition to future generations

In a situation where there are many male animals on the farm, castrating them will prevent them from being a reproductive waste because too many male on a farm is a waste therefore It is better they are castrated and fattened up.

Key Points in Neutering / Castration:

  • Perform castration when the animal is as young as possible, ideally soon after birth.
  • Pain mitigation must be used when castrating bulls older than six months of age.
  • Castration or neutering must be performed by an experienced person using proper, clean, well-maintained equipment and accepted techniques.
  • Avoid castration during weaning or other stressful events.
  • Castration can be accomplished using surgery (i.e. “knife-cut”), or by restricting bloodflow to the testes by using a banding tool called an elastrator. Although less common, a specialized clamp called a Burdizzo may also be used to crush the testicular cord and associated tissues.
  • Castration or neutering is a common practice, however there may be risks, including pain, swelling, bleeding, and infection. Reduce risks by using proper techniques, clean tools, adhering to a proper vaccination protocol, and castrating animals when they are young.
  • Pain medication, such as anesthetics and analgesics, is effective at reducing pain and improving welfare. A number of different pain-control products are commercially available. Producers are using pain medication for castration, in consultation with their veterinarians, more than ever before.  
  • Neutered or castrated animals must be dully cared for to avoid loss.

Risks involved in Neutering / Castration

Castration being a surgical operation has its own risks, part of the risk is the fact that if the animal is castrated too early in life, the animal may end up having the appearance of a female. So, the animal must be allowed to attain some maturity level before castration is done.

Also, if castration is not properly done, the animal may bleed to death. Bacterial infection may also result in the wound created by castration if not adequately managed. It is therefore good to always insist that a Vet. Doctor castrates your animals.

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How to Neuter (Castrate) Ruminant Male Animals: Risks and Benefits

How to avoid all the Risks during Neutering

The best thing to do is to consult an expert who will put you through the right age to castrate your animal, he will also help you castrate the animals effectively and then manage the resulting wound to avoid issues.

Allowing a non-professional to castrate your animals increases the risks of castration and could be very dangerous for the health and survival of your animals.

The Best Age to carryout Castration or Neutering

What determines the age to castrate them is when the reproductive organs to be removed have developed. An average age around six month is okay to castrate them

Castrating them when they have grown very old may delay wound healing which implies that they must therefore be castrated at the appropriate time in order to avoid that.

How to Neuter (Castrate) Ruminant Male Animals: Risks and Benefits

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How do we Neuter or Castrate Animals?

The best time to castrate animals is when they are very young (a few days old). If castration is carried out then, the operation is easier and more successful and the wound heals (gets better) very quickly.

Holding and controlling animals for neutering / castration

You will need another person to help you. It is best to put young lambs and kids on a table covered with sacks. Calves can be castrated when they are standing but the animal must be restrained very well.

(1) Castration with a knife (blood)

Use a very sharp knife, razor or scalpel.

  • Check that the knife, razor or scalpel is very sharp and clean. Clean the blade with a disinfectant such as alcohol, iodine, Dettol or gentian violet.
  • Use warm water and soap to wipe the scrotum and wash your hands.
  • Cut the bottom end of the scrotum. Squeeze the testicle above the cut end of the scrotum and it will come out.
  • Pull each testicle out as far as possible, twist the testicular cord around several times. Cut the cord in cattle and buffalo by scraping the knife slowly up and down. Pull to sever the cord in lambs and kids.
  • Do not put your fingers inside the open scrotum. Put either tincture of iodine, gentian violet, Dettol or antibiotic powder on the wound.

(2) Castration / Neutering  with burdizzo (no blood)

The Burdizzo should be used on the young animal. There are Burdizzos for animals of different sizes. You should always remember that the Burdizzo is a valuable instrument and keep it clean and oiled. Do not drop it.

To neuter or castrate with the burdizzo:

  • Feel the scrotum with your hand and you will feel the two rope-like testicular cords inside.
  • Take the Burdizzo in your right hand and with your left hand push the cord to the side between the jaws of the Burdizzo and squeeze hard.
  • Now take the Burdizzo in the left hand and crush the other cord.

(3) Castration / Neutering with rubber rings

To castrate with rubber rings, we use a tool called an elastrator. It can only be used to castrate ruminants which are a few days old.

  • Put a rubber ring around the four teeth of the elastrator and squeeze the handle. The rubber ring will be stretched open.
  • Pass the scrotum of the animal through the ring making sure that it goes over the two testicles.
  • Release the elastrator and the rubber ring will tighten over the cords. After two weeks, the scrotum will fall off.

Check all animals which have been recently castrated for signs of infection.

The Aftercare needed after Neutering / Castration

The following care should be taken after castration of the animals:

  • Turn calves in with their mothers in a clean grass pen.
  • Do not turn into muddy or filthy lots or lots around barns (where there is much danger of infection).
  • Watch the animal closely for about 10 days after castration.
  • Beware of fly attacks and infection (especially with emasculator method).
  • Treat wounds with wound aerosol which discourages fly attacks.
  • If swelling and pain are severe and/or if the animal develops fever, a suitable antibiotic should be injected.

Immunization as an Alternative to Castration

Researchers have shown immunization/vaccination techniques will suppress male hormone production, reduce testicular development and result in steer-like carcasses. Growth and carcass characteristics of the immunized animals are similar to steers.

Researchers also have found that castration by immunization reduces aggressive behavior and is an effective alternative to surgical castration to manage bulls. However, there is no commercial product available for use. The need for repeated injections likely would discourage its adoption.

Related: Methods of Livestock Breeding in the Tropical Environment

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