What is the best method of castrating a bull calf? When is the best time to do it?

Beef Cattle October 09, 2008 Print Friendly and PDF
There seems to be several times that bull calves are castrated; at birth, at branding time and before the time that they and their dam are moved to spring/summer pasture, at weaning, and, sometimes in the seedstock business, after weaning. There is probably debate when the "best" time to castrate, but whatever the time, make sure it is done to avoid infection and stress is as minimal as possible. The time when it seems that there is the least amount of stress is when castration is done at birth. Usually the procedure is using a rubber band that fits tightly around the scrotum and next to the body. The blood supply to the scrotum and the two testicles in the scrotum is stopped and necrosis occurs and, after about a month, the testicles and scrotum fall off. The key at this age is to make sure both testicles have descended and are in the scrotum before the band is put on. As the animal gets older there is probably more stress and care must be taken because as the animal matures the blood supply to the testicles increases as well as an increase in nerve development. Usually banding is the method used when castrating at birth and for bulls that are older, especially after weaning has occurred. A tetanus vaccine should be given when calves are banded. A knife is used at most of the other times. Make sure the calf has access to a clean area and that the flies are controlled.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.