Sunday, October 19, 2008

Castration day

Normally, castration is a not a big deal around here. It's a fairly routine occurrence with lambs and goat kids. Today, however, was different. I had a buckling that was the son of a master champion doe, and I normally keep her bucks, but this little guy just didn't have everything I want to see in a buck, so I decided to castrate him, but it was too late to use the bander, because his testicles were too big. So, I ordered a Burdizzo, a trade name for an emasculator, which crushes the tubes that go to the testicles. By some accounts, it is the most humane method of castrating, because it is bloodless, so the only real drawback is that you might not actually castrate the animal. The testicles are still there, so you only know that you've succeeded after a month or two when the testicles haven't grown any -- which you can only tell by comparing them to the uncastrated boys their age. After more time, they will shrink up and go away completely.

The Burdizzo arrived on Friday after a three week wait since it was back-ordered. It came with absolutely zero instructions, so I went to the Web to learn how to use it. First I searched for "using a Burdizzo." Bad idea. I was well into reading an article when I realized they were talking about using it to castrate a person! Yikes! Hit the browser "back" button, find another article, click on it and start reading. It begins by saying that a Burdizzo is used on farms to castrate animals, and suddenly I realize I am reading an article about how to castrate yourself. [sigh] Finally, the light goes on in my brain, and I realize I should add the word "goat" to my search. Voila! I have a great article from Fiasco Farm on how to castrate a goat using a Burdizzo.

So, this morning, we did it. The goat was seven months old and didn't put up nearly as much of a fuss as I expected. I was afraid I was going to feel really dreadful afterwards, but disbudding is still #1 on my "Most Dreaded Farm Chores" list. This afternoon, we caught the three little rams that were born last month, and I castrated them using the Burdizzo also. They took it even better than the little buckling, and I think I'll be using it to castrate all lambs in the future. I like the fact that it is bloodless, so I don't have to lose even a minute's sleep over the whole tetanus issue.

And, yes, I really do lose sleep -- a lot of sleep -- over my animals' well-being. Sometimes I think I'm not cut out for this at all. If I wake up in the middle of the night and it's raining, I worry that someone outside is being a bully and not letting some goat or sheep into the shelter. Sometimes I can't get back to sleep at all. So, if the ram lambs were successfully castrated, I'll definitely be doing this again.

7 comments:

melanie said...

Not having the constitution you do, I wimp out and take my rams to the vet. But she uses a burdizzo, and I have been very happy with the results and the effect on the sheep.

We always look away in companionable empathy when the deed is actually done (my husband even winces) but when I told him about your article search and the OTHER apparent use of this thing, we were speechless. Then we laughed till our sides hurt.

Who would have thought?...

Jody said...

I'm glad that you care so much about your animals. There are so many others that dont.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

My husband the large animal vet wouldn't use a Burdizzo on my ram lambs; said he has seen it not work. He managed to band them (they were not little, but not nearly as big as your goat, I'm sure). They acted uncomfortable quite awhile, and I felt bad for them. I wish Rick would employ a Burdizoo!

Deborah said...

I was never crazy about using a Burdizzo because I wondered how I'd know if it had worked or not, but after reading the Fiasco Farm article and looking at their pictures, it should be obvious if it was successful. Rams' testicles grow so much faster than goats that it should be even easier to tell, and I have the three boys to compare to each other, so if one is larger than the others, I'll know it didn't work. Now that I've actually done it, "not working" seems like such a small drawback compared to tetanus.

Deborah said...

And as I got less squeamish I started checking to see if the cord was really crushed while the Burdizzo was clamped, so I'll be really surprised if the last two weren't successful. I'll keep everyone updated.

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Kare said...

I can relate to the sleep issue. My sleep suffers too... when one is near labor, when the weather is too cold or too wet, when I have to castrate, disbud or tattoo, when the kids are young, when anyone has a health issue, and on days ending in "Y" (kidding about the last one... but sometimes it seems like it!)

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