Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Castration: surgical options

Synonym(s): orchidectomy, sterilization

Contributor(s): Ash Phipps , Adam Dunstan-Martin

Introduction

Note: The following article has been prepared based on the guidelines for the United Kingdom. It is recommended to view the specific guidelines for bovine castration in the country of which the veterinarian is practicing in, as they may differ.  
  • Castration (also known as bilateral orchidectomy), is defined as the removal of the testicles.
  • Castration is a common procedure carried out in cattle for a number of reasons:
    • To improve meat quality.
    • To render males more docile and manageable.
    • To prevent unwanted breeding.
    • Surgical correct of scrotal hernias.
UK stock keepers may castrate calves less than 8 weeks of age. However, calves greater than 8 weeks of age may only be castrated by a veterinarian. 
  • Under the Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Act 1954, as amended, it is an offence to castrate calves which have reached two months of age without the use of an anesthetic. Furthermore, the use of a rubber ring, or other device, to restrict the flow of blood to the scrotum, is only permitted without an anaesthetic if the device is applied during the first week of life. 
  • The British Veterinary Association (BVA), in association with the British Cattle Veterinary Society (BCVA) have recently released a statement regarding analgesia in calves. The full statement can be found here.
    • BVA advices that they consider that existing legislation does not reflect a level of appropriate analgesia and fails to reflect changes in scientific understanding, pharmaceutical developments and societal opinions which have developed over time.
    • BVA advise that both a local anesthetic and a NSAID should be used for all castration of calves, whichever method is used, in accordance with data sheet commendations.
    • The author, reviewer and editor support the BVA’s stance on this issue.
  • The options that exist for performing castration in cattle include: 
    • Closed:
      • Burdizzo clamp.
      • Elastrator band.
      • Banders.
    • Open:
      • Surgical ligation.
      • Newberry knife.
      • Dual-action emasculatome.
      • Henderson castration tool.
      • Incise, twist and pull.

Burdizzo clamp

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Elastrator band

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Banders

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Surgical ligation

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Newberry knife

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Dual-Action Emasculatome

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Henderson castration tool

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Incise, twist and pull

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Stafford K J (2007) Alleviating the pain caused by the castration of cattle. Vet J 173, pp 333-342. 
  • Kent J E, Thrusfield M V, Robertson I S & Molony V (1996) Castration of calves: a study of methods used by farmers in the United Kingdom. The Veterinary Record 138 (16) pp 384-387.

Other sources of information

  • Weaver A D, St Jean G & Steiner A (2013) Bovine surgery and lameness. John Wiley & Sons. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK.
  • Animal Health Direct (2012) California Bander Castration. Accessed 13 July 2016. Available at: www.specialistsales.com.
  • Parkinson T J, Vermunt J J & Malmo J (2010) Diseases of cattle in Australasia: a comprehensive textbook. New Zealand Veterinary Association Foundation for Continuing Education, Wellington, NZ.
  • Anderson D E & Rings M D (2009) Current Veterinary Therapy: Food Animal Practice. 5th edn. Saunders, St. Louis MO. pp 362.
  • Divers T J & Peek S (2007) Rebhun's diseases of dairy cattle. Elsevier Health Sciences. St Louis, Missouri, USA.
  • Fubini S L & Ducharme N (2004) Farm animal surgery. Elsevier Health Sciences, St Louis, Missouri, USA.


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