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Castration of Young Bulls

18 August 2016

With the reduced demand for bull beef many producers may be tempted to castrate their current crop of young bulls.

The 3 methods for castrating bull calves are:

1. Rubber rings or bander castrator

This is not a realistic option for suckler calves as it is illegal to use rings or a bander castrator once the calf is over 7 days old.

2. Surgical/knife

This can be done at any age, but –

  • Must always be done under a local anaesthetic.
  • Can only be undertaken by a vet once the calf is over 2 months old.

3. Bloodless castration using a Burdizzo

This can only be done by a trained and competent stock keeper on calves under 2 months of age.

  • It is an offence to castrate calves that have reached 2 months of age without the use of an anaesthetic.
  • Only a vet may castrate a calf that has reached 2 months of age.

In general the older the animals when it is castrated the greater the check and the higher the risk of subsequent problems and even mortality.

Hence with the additional cost of veterinary castration, a huge check in performance and the very real risk of deaths it is unlikely to be a realistic option. For example: –

  • One death at £1,300 is equivalent to a 7p/kg dwt drop for those remaining within a batch of 50.
  • At a minimum daily cost for feed alone of 135p/head, having a week check with no growth will cost nearly £30/head and encourage a heavier, leaner, and more importantly, older carcass.

Basil Lowman,

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