* The le­gal re­quire­ments ap­ply­ing to cas­tra­tion are out­lined in the

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Down On The Farm -

terms of tes­tic­u­lar growth rate, but still best done by the time they're four weeks old. If left too long the ring may cut off the blood flow in the scro­tal vein, but not the artery, lead­ing to en­gorge­ment of the scro­tum which in­vari­ably leads to ma­jor com­pli­ca­tions.

When I was a novice farmer, we got into some trou­ble do­ing a cou­ple of bull calves too late. On both calves the scro­tum swelled, caus­ing dis­com­fort for the an­i­mals for a longer pe­riod than should have been the case and the en­larged scro­tum then caused on­go­ing prob­lems be­cause it did not die and drop off as it should. Nei­ther be­came in­fected, but both had to have the dead and stink­ing big lump sur­gi­cally re­moved, leav­ing a large wound. Both re­cov­ered well, but it was an ex­pen­sive and a stupid mis­take to make.

High ten­sion band­ing by a vet­eri­nar­ian us­ing lo­cal anaes­thetic is a hu­mane way of cas­trat­ing older an­i­mals if nec­es­sary. Pain re­lief is manda­tory with this method. Farm­ers are cur­rently still per­mit­ted to cas­trate an­i­mals with­out the use of pain re­lief within the first six months of life, but it must be done prop­erly to avoid the need for later ex­pen­sive and stress­ful in­ter­ven­tion.

If you have never done it your­self, get some­one ex­pe­ri­enced to demon­strate and as­sist you, or get a vet in the first in­stance, es­pe­cially if there are other things you re­quire, like de­horn­ing/dis­bud­ding. If you only have a small num­ber of an­i­mals or don't have the equip­ment or ex­pe­ri­ence, that may be the best op­tion, es­pe­cially if you'd pre­fer to fol­low best prac­tice and have pain re­lief ad­min­is­tered to min­imise any dis­tress in your an­i­mals.

The big­gest risk for calves and lambs (and kids) with cas­tra­tion is tetanus, a deadly dis­ease caused by one of the Clostrid­ium bugs which get into the blood­stream via in­jury sites.

Lambs and calves whose moth­ers re­ceived a 5-in-1 vac­cine be­fore lamb­ing/ calv­ing (either a sen­si­tiser and booster around six and two weeks be­fore, or an an­nual booster two to four weeks be­fore birth) should re­ceive ad­e­quate cover against tetanus via the colostrum, for the first six or so weeks. They can be safely cas­trated at birth or very soon af­ter. Lambs whose moth­ers have not been vac­ci­nated must re­ceive a lamb vac­cine con­tain­ing an anti-toxin for tetanus at the time of cas­tra­tion. The same prod­uct can be used for calves, but it's an off-la­bel use that you'd need to dis­cuss with your vet who would ad­vise cor­rect dose rates.

Con­sult your vet about the best tim­ing for dock­ing/cas­tra­tion if a lamb vac­ci­na­tion is re­quired and sub­se­quent vac­cine ad­min­is­tra­tion.

LEFT: this pus-like mat­ter is com­mon above a ring on a cas­tra­tion wound.

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