Castration

All young bucklings that are not to be evaluated as replacement bucks should be castrated. For some producers, this means castrating between the ages of 2 and 4 weeks. Castration of young animals produces less stress in the animals and there is less chance of complications occurring due to the procedure. Young bucks are capable of breeding females as early as 4 to 5 months of age. If a decision is made to not castrate young males, management practices should be in place to prevent unwanted matings.

Three common ways to castrate bucks is through the use of an elastrator that places a rubber ring around the scrotum, a Burdizzo® clamp that crushes the spermatic cord, and the use of a knife to cut the scrotum and remove the testicles.

Elastrator

Using an elastrator is an inexpensive, quick, and bloodless method of castration. It involves putting a heavy rubber ring around the scrotum near the body. The ring stops blood circulation to the scrotum and testicles and these will dry, shrivel, and slough off in 10 to 14 days. It must be done while the scrotum is still very small, i.e., from three days to three weeks of age depending on breed size, before the scrotal muscles and associated tissues develop.

The rubber ring is first put on the prongs of the elastrator (a pliers-like device that when squeezed will open the ring allowing the scrotum and testes to pass through). The male kid is restrained and the scrotum is passed through the open ring with the prongs of the elastrator facing the kid’s body. The producer must feel the scrotum to ensure that both testicles are in the scrotum below the ring. The rubber ring is positioned close to the body and then slipped off the elastrator prongs. Care must be taken to not inadvertently disturb the rudimentary teats of the male kid.

Animals should suffer minimal discomfort until the area becomes numb. However, kids should be monitored during the period prior to sloughing of the scrotum. This method has a higher risk of tetanus than many other castration methods. Some producers may wish to give tetanus antitoxin at the time of castration. If the banded scrotum does not fall off in an appropriate period of time, it may need to be removed manually.

Animals should suffer minimal discomfort until the area becomes numb. However, kids should be monitored during the period prior to sloughing of the scrotum. This method has a higher risk of tetanus than many other castration methods. Some producers may wish to give tetanus antitoxin at the time of castration. If the banded scrotum does not fall off in an appropriate period of time, it may need to be removed manually.

Burdizzo®

Another quick, bloodless method of castration is to use a Burdizzo® clamp, or emasculatome, to crush and rupture the spermatic cords. This method can be used on older animals, however, it is best to castrate goats when young.

It is important to remember that the spermatic cords must be crushed one side at a time. After restraining the animal, grab the scrotum and manipulate one of the testicles deep in the scrotal sac and find the spermatic cord. Place the clamp over the spermatic cord one-third of the way down the scrotum. Clamp down and hold for 15 to 20 seconds. Release the clamp, reposition it over the spermatic cord one-half inch lower and repeat the procedure. Perform the same steps on the other side to crush the other spermatic cord. Always check the position of the spermatic cord before and after each clamping to ensure no mistakes are made. With this method, the scrotal sac will not slough off, but the will remain on the animal. The testicles will atrophy and disappear.

This method is the best to use during fly season because it leaves no big open wound. Goats must be between four weeks to four months of age with eight to 12 weeks being ideal. Because of the difficulty in telling if the spermatic cords have been crushed, this method may be perceived as less reliable than other methods.

Knife

A third method of castration is the use of a knife. As with the other methods, knife castration is best done on young kids. This will result in less blood loss and stress on the animal. The animal should be restrained and the scrotal area washed if necessary. The producer’s hands should be washed and knife sanitized with alcohol. The scrotum is grasped with the testicles pushed to the upper portion and the lower third of the scrotum is cut off. Removing the lower third of the scrotum allows for wound drainage and helps prevent infection. Each testicle is slowly pulled down and away from the body until the cord breaks. If the animal is more than 4 or 5 weeks old, the cord should be scraped through with the knife rather than broken. This will result in less bleeding. The scrotum is sprayed with an antibacterial spray that also repels or kills flies. The kids will be lethargic for several days and then gradually recover. The kids should not be confined to a muddy or filthy area while they are healing from the castration.

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