Castration is a very vital management practice in animal husbandry. It enables livestock farmers to easily manage breeding on the farms.
What is Castration?
Castration is defined as the destruction or removal of the testes, epididymis, and a part of spermatic cord from a male animal e.g. ram, buck, bull. Male animals that are reserved for fattening and those that are needed for breeding or mating should be castrated.
Most times, farmers don’t castrate male animals. They allow them to flock together with the females. The outcome of this decision will cause low-quality males to mate with females to produce a low quality or unproductive offspring.
Economic Importance of Castration
1. Prevention of inbreeding
Inbreeding leads to poor growth rate, poor food conversion ratio, and some other genetic defects.
2. Prevention of unwanted pregnancies
Castration prevents unplanned pregnancies and also mating of young female animals before they attain good body weight, size and age for pregnancy and parturition (giving birth).
3. Safety of employees, producers, and other animals.
Note that castrated animals are often less aggressive and they can be handled with ease.
4. Reduced taint odour or goaty smell in the meat of male animals
For example, the meat from intact bucks (goat) always has strong ‘goaty’ smell while it is lesser in castrated bucks.
5. Improved weight development and carcass quality
This point is one of the effects of castrating male animals. A castrated animal such as goats and sheep from research develops more fat tissue. If castration is done late maybe after the animal has attained sexual maturity, the growth of such an animal could be retarded and its lean meat quality will also decrease.
Why Castration Should be Done at an Early Age
I will briefly discuss the age to castrate an animal such as sheep and goat. Castration should be carried out at the youngest age because the stress of the operation will negatively affect growth in older animals. You can castrate kids, lambs, piglets, calves, etc. as soon as you observe and confirm descend of the testicles* into the scrotum, which could take between few days to three weeks of age. There is no need to administer pain reliever or sedation if castration is carried out at this age.
The operation becomes complex and more painful with older ages and the possibility of complication increases. In addition, castration is easier, and the wound heals quickly in younger animals. It is recommended that castration should be performed on animals at less than 3 weeks of age. Unfortunately, many farmers choose to castrate their male animals at an older age when the animal is matured. They give the reason that castration at an early age would lead to stunted growth, or it would affect good body conformation.
How to Castrate an Animal
Animals such as pig, cattle, goat, sheep and dogs can be castrated. There are three methods of castration.
- Surgical removal
- Elastrator and rubber ring
How to carry out a surgical removal of the testes (castration)
This process is a surgical operation; hence, ensure that you know what you’re doing before you start the operation. If not, use the service of a veterinary surgeon. The steps involved in a surgical removal of the testes (castration) are as follow:
- Sterilize the surgical knife or blade and syringe
- Wash the hands thoroughly and with a disinfectant such as Dettol
- Wash the scrotum with warm water and Dettol
- Use the left hand to grasp the end of the scrotum and the right hand to gently force the testicles back
- Use the sterilized surgical blade or knife to open up one end of the scrotum. Then grip a testicle between the thumb and first finger. Gently twist anticlockwise and apply traction to remove the testis.
- Repeat the process with the second testis.
- Apply iodine or gental violet (GV) to the operated area
- Inject the animal with oxytetracycline solution using a sterile syringe.
- Give the animal multivitamins for 5 days
Burdizzo or bloodless castrator
- Hold the burdizzo using the right hand and draw one testicle down with the left hand.
- Place the spermatic cord between the jaws of the burdizzo and apply pressure.
- Repeat the process with the second testicle.
Elastrator and rubber rings
The rings are placed under the scrotum and spermatic cord when the animal is about 1-week old or when both testicles have descended. Ensure that both testes are below the ring.
As the animal grows old, the ring will make the scrotum and testicles develop further due to the stoppage of blood supply to the area. After a while, the scrotum and testicles shrink and die naturally.