Ask the Vet

Castration and Beef Profits

Early castration is less stressful and less risky for both the calves, and the humans doing the procedure. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Joe Link)

Quesiton: I am researching castration banders for smaller calves. I have read articles that indicate it is best to castrate within the first couple weeks of birth. I have a friend who has a Callicrate bander, but it is for larger calves. My concern is getting the scrotum through the opening and ease of use. Do you have any recommendations?

Answer: I do believe early castration offers many benefits. Some cattlemen castrate at birth, while others wait until one to three months of age. Early castration is less stressful and less risky for calves -- as well as the humans doing the procedure. The loss of testosterone in castrated calves can be replaced with growth implants if you are concerned about lost gains. Some research indicates even without implants, any gains made by delaying castration may be lost because of increased infection, death loss, decreased gains or even losses due to stress. Others feel quality of the retail product is better with early castration.

My personal experience has been with the old Elastrator bands. They have been used successfully for many years. As you note, there are many options. Are they better? I can't tell you, because I haven't used them. If other producers have opinions, please feel free to share your opinions with me.

To your question about using the bander: If the procedure is done early, you should have no problem getting the testicles through any of these banders. Ask your veterinarian, Extension agent or someone with experience banding calves to show you how to use it. Then ask them to watch as you do it. You'll be an expert in short order.

The key to using a bander is to find one you are comfortable with, then be sure to use it properly. Be sure you have two testicles below the band. Many years ago, I had to recastrate a group of bulls where only two out of 23 were done correctly. The rest had either one or both testicles left. That was a long and costly process I do not care to repeat.