Country Living Series

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nuts to you

Poor Thor didn't have a very good day. That's because we castrated him today.

(I'll pause while all the male readers wince in sympathy and cross their legs.)

For obvious reasons, it's best to steer a bull calf when he's very young, but they have to be at least a few days old to allow time for the testicles to fully descend. We used to have the vet do the castrating (surgically - without anesthesia - not overly pleasant for the poor calf - men, you can leave the room if you want) but we finally wised up and bought an emasculator.

This handy and inexpensive little device is nothing more than a gizmo that spreads a tight rubber band over the top of the calf's testicles. It takes literally five minutes or less.


The rubber band is slipped over the prongs...


...and then when the handle is squeezed, the band opens wide.


So this morning we pulled Thor into the pen.


The little guy was suspicious. (With good reason.)


It's a two-person job, but since the calf is so young (and used to being handled) it wasn't terribly traumatic for him. A simple matter of gently slipping the testicles through the band...


...and carefully releasing the handles of the emasculator so the band tightens over the neck of the testicles.


That's it! No struggles, no blood. Of course poor Thor walked around for the rest of the day with his tail slightly raised and his back legs a little bit apart. Doubtless it's terribly uncomfortable, but hey, we don't need another bull around the place.


Deprived of their blood supply, the testicles will wither and dry up, and should fall off within about two weeks.

We were going to dehorn Thor this evening, but the poor guy's been through enough for one day. We'll wait a couple days to let him adjust to the new sensation.

27 comments:

  1. In many ways I might be considered porcine, but I am eternally grateful that I wasn't born a bovine. Poor, sore Thor.

    Anonymous Patriot
    USA

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  2. Before de horning, check out if that is the right thing to do to an ox. I know nothing about it, but did read something in the article I am posting on the other article about building things.

    Terry

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  3. There is NO possible way we'll ever have another animal with horns on the place, ox or no. (smile) We have two horned cows and it's just too dangerous. Granted, Thor is a steer now (or will be in about two weeks) and will therefore be comparatively gentle, but horns are just an accident waiting to happen.

    Horns won't make a difference in terms of strength, so there's no need to keep them.

    Poor sore Thor indeed...

    - Patrice

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  4. Are you planning on banding the horns or burning or cutting them off? Just wondering if you have seen the Callicrate bander. It works similar to what you did for castration, but can be used on horns. www.nobull.net

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  5. We'll dehorn using dehorning paste (see this blog post: http://www.rural-revolution.com/2009/06/dehorning-raven.html)

    - Patrice

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  6. Please pardon my ignorance but when you say that deprived of their blood supply the testicles will wither and fall off. I'm not sure how they could fall off until the scrotum has degraded to the point of bad toilet paper. Just curious.

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  7. No idea. I just know that within a few weeks there's nothing there. It's the same principle (I hear) with sheep tails. Sheep breeders will dock lamp tails using the same banding technique.

    I sometimes get these tiny little polyps on my skin, and my husband will tie a thread tightly around it. Within a couple days the polyp is gone - it dries up and falls off. Same idea.

    - Patrice

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  8. This sounds much worse than it is.
    The blood supply is tourniqueted by the tight band and within a QUARTER of an hour the surrounding tissues below the band are numb.
    Nerve tissue (that which transmits pain), dies very quickly without oxygenated blood supply. The tissue becomes withered and does just fall off in a week to 10 days.
    I wether my male goats using this same tool.
    It beats using a scalpel anyday. And, the post procedure infection rate is much less than when using a scalpel.

    notutopia

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  9. PS, Just a tip.
    If you wish to speed up the tissue shriveling and falling off process, use a dip cup filled with Alum water solution:
    1TBLSP. to 1/2 cup of water. Dip up to the banded tissue daily. It acts astringently and enhances the tissue drying and falling off process and also acts as a cleanser.

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  10. I'm constantly AMAZED at all the useful info I glean from your post. I have no use for the "emasculator", but I sure can use the "thread" tidbit...LOL!

    -Nina

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  11. Couldn't a vet do these things in a more comfortable way for the animal??

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  12. Trust me, NO. What a graphic visual?

    Here's how a vet castrates a bull calf. We've seen it many times, which is why we now use an emasculator.

    We wrestle the calf to the ground. The vet takes a sharp knife and slices open the scrotum. He reaches inside and snips off the testicles and tosses them aside. Maybe a splash of antibiotics, and the animal is back on his feet. No anesthetic. Not because the vet is cruel, but because for whatever reason, anesthetic is just not deemed necessary.

    Believe me, after witnessing this a dozen times, an emasculator is humane and gentle and easy. There's no blood, no fear, no open wound susceptible to infection. And the calf stays on his feet (laying an animal down triggers a struggling instinct that adds to his panic).

    - Patrice

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  13. Anonymous said...
    Couldn't a vet do these things in a more comfortable way for the animal??


    If one can actually find a vet to visit the farm, he or she pretty much does the same thing or uses a scalpel.

    Our market requires that the ram lambs be uncastrated (so you can imagine what a pain THAT is in a few months).

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  14. Sensation? Sensation? HawHaw HEHE HawHaw--Don't ya'll mean the new DE-sensation? HEHE HAWHAW HEHE! ( I know, I know---there aint no such word--least not in no dictionary ( RedNeck dictionary excepted ).
    AlaRedNeck and Mrs Neck

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  15. Everything I've read on this blog over the past many months indicates that a more caring, concerned, humane family would be hard to find. IMO, Patrice and Don have found the most painless way to make a bull calf into a steer. Once a steer, Thor will probably live a much longer and less stressful life. He won't know what he's missing and he won't suffer for it.

    The dehorning process used to be a very ugly and bloody process, but new processes have made that horrible procedure passe. Again, Patrice and Don have opted for the most humane way to handle the dehorning job.

    There are some breeds of cattle that are born without horns, so anybody who is too squeamish to do the job should research those breeds for your own farms.

    People, the time to be namby-pamby is over. We're getting to the time when PETA and the USHS will be merely memories (goody!) and being a real farmer means doing things that aren't always pretty. Castrating, dehorning, putting down, and butchering are all in a day's work on a farm. That's reality.

    Patrice is doing all of us a great service by explaining how these tasks are done, humanely.

    Anonymous Patriot
    USA

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  16. MICHAEL DEAN MILLERFebruary 18, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    .


    Ah, yes,... the demasculator..... another fine product from Hillary Clinton Industries.


    .

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  17. Forgive my ignorance, but why would you do this to young Thor? I guess I think of a survival situation where, God forbid, your other bull dies and you need a stud around to grow the heard...Thor could have taken over the job....now he is about as useful as Obama.

    Just curious on the why of it all.

    Thanks

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  18. Some good questions, Anon 7:10. We steered Thor because we already have a bull. Even though Dexter bulls are comparatively good-natured by bull standards, Gimli is still a bull and full of testosterone, as such potentially dangerous. Our daughters won't go near him. Steers are sweet-tempered and easy to handle, but bulls are... well, bulls.

    But you're right about our bull being extremely valuable in terms of a survival situation. Don and I were just talking about that the other day - how if things get bad, Gimli could become one of our most valuable animals. But TWO bulls on the same property (unless they're severely separated) is asking for trouble - they'll fight, and believe me, you don't want to be around fighting bulls. We'll just have to take our chances that Gimli will stay alive and healthy.

    Also, keeping Thor as a breeder would be troublesome genetically since he's too closely related to many of our cows and heifers. Gimli came from a different gene pool, and while he can be bred to his daughters for one generation, more than that can be a problem. Thor is half-brother to a lot of our herd, and allowing him to breed our girls brings too much inbreeding to our herd.

    Any granddaughter of Gimli will be sold off (or put in the freezer) because that's too much inbreeding as well.

    Hope this answers questions!

    - Patrice

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  19. I use to help my dad do the same thing to our bull calves. Definitely easier for all, than the knife.

    There was one time I'll never forget. We had one little guy that had evidently been paying attention to what was going on to those before him. When it was his turn, just as we were slipping the rubber band on, he fought for all he was worth. The rubber band slip off a little lower than we had planned. He gave a high pitched moo that would have made a opera singer proud. We laughed till tears were rolling down our cheeks. When we recovered we were somewhat concerned that the band was too low, but he turned out OK. He liked to break into the barn and jump around on the hay bales.

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  20. Helped a friend do his calves the other day (in a crush)and they're really none the worse for wear. They were more upset about being seperated from their mums.
    On another note, here in Australia we used to have teams of bullocks pull huge wagons piled high with trade goods. I belive they were bulls allowed to grow to maturity before losing the equipment. It means they grew bigger and stronger than the average steer, able to pull larger loads. They needed to be strong and hardy because of the distance and conditions here. They were made redundant when steam boats became readily available.
    Amanda

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  21. My husband imagines this conversation with your neighbors:

    Tho, how'th your young thteer?

    Oh, he'th thtill a little Thor.

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  22. I could walk by a guillotine without a glance, by THAT is the most frightening thing I've ever seen. Far scarier than a rabbit cooking in a pot. Is that the plain version? Is there a Lorena Bobbit Signature Edition? Can you imagine...

    No, I can't even finish the thought.

    Hello? 1-800-FLOWERS?

    Jeff

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  23. .


    Anonymous said...
    My husband imagines this conversation with your neighbors:
    Tho, how'th your young thteer?
    Oh, he'th thtill a little Thor.


    Tho, I'm thinking Thamthin The Atheerian Athathin ith your neighbor then?

    Thintheerly,
    Thenturian Bigith Dicketh in Rome


    .

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  24. You may the only other person who's ever seen The Life of Brian...

    "Hail Theasar!" :)


    Jeff - Tucson

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  25. No Boiling Pot. Not cruel at all. Little icky nice bull calves grow up into big, dangerous mean bulls. The rubber band does hurt, and will cause pain inside each testicle until it dies off. However, that calf when matured as a bull will have to be kept away from its cows & other bulls as it will fight and fight. And fight and fight. I guess your a little girl from a city some place. When you have bought your cooked cakes (made from battery hen chicken's eggs) had your Mac Donald's watched you television which tells you how to think, spare a day at a farm working with these things. See how you like to deal with a big angry bull, or a pig in a temper. No, its nuts off and be done with. Oldest operation known to man. Painful for a few days, but all over and then see how contented they are.

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  26. For the record, you can take the tails off baby pigs the same way. I always give a tetanus booster when I castrate a goat this way. Wish I could castrate pigs the same way!

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