Castration in Calves

Castration in Calves

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  Cattle General Health CareCattle Castration  

Castration in Calves

Dr. Colleen Lewis / December 12, 2016

Calves are typically born with two descended testicles that have left the body cavity and dropped into the scrotum. There are quite a few different ways to remove the testicles, or castrate a calf. which can be performed as early as one day of age and all the way into adulthood.

The younger the calf’s age at the time of castration, the lower the discomfort level of the procedure. It is recommended to use a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) at the time of castration to keep calves comfortable and up eating and drinking. When using the open castration method, I try to keep the calves pretty quiet for the first 24 hours to keep bleeding to a minimum. Most of the calves do not bleed at all, or just a few drops when exiting the treatment area.

Avoiding other procedures at the same time as castration makes a lot of sense: weaning and vaccinations can add quite a bit of stress. Castrating calves at least two weeks prior to weaning will keep the calves calm and less likely to break with stress related diseases. These calves will also continue to nurse and exercise to reduce swelling as they follow their dams around the pasture. If castrating weaned calves, I have my producers go into the pen at least twice a day and stand all the calves up to make sure they are comfortable and encourage them toward the bunk after the first 12 hours. Show steers will need to be hand walked a couple of times per day as needed to reduce swelling.

About the Author
Dr. Colleen Lewis is a 1996 graduate of Kansas State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. Her career has taken her to many places as a practice owner, consultant, embryologist, and mentor. She enjoys mixed animal practice, teaching, traveling, farming and high school sports with her husband, Andrew and their three boys.

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