Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reducing the pain of castration

While there are numerous justifications for castrating ram lambs and buck kids, all methods cause pain. Pain is quantified by cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the blood and behavior modifications.

All producers should strive to manage their male offspring in a manner which causes the least amount of pain and distress. Under many circumstances, it may not be necessary to castrate male lambs and goats. The ever-growing ethnic market prefers intact males.

Banding, whereby a rubber ring is placed around the neck of the scrotum, is the most common method of castration. To minimize pain, lambs and kids should be banded between 1 and 7 days of age. The new Calicrate “Wee” Bander™ claims to be a more humane method of banding.

Crushing the spermatic cords with an emasculator (Burdizzo) is considered to be the least noxious form of castration. When the Burdizzo is used in combination with the elastrator, banding is less painful.

Surgical (or open) castration, when the bottom third of the scrotum is removed (using a knife or scalpel) and the testicles are removed, is the most painful method of castration. It also has the highest risk of infection and fly infestation.

Short-scrotum castration, a common practice in New Zealand, is less painful than full castration.

In order of increasing pain, here are the alternatives for castration:
  1. No castration 
  2. Short-scrotum castration 
  3. Burdizzo clamp 
  4. Burdizzo + elastrator
  5. Elastrator (rubber ring) 
  6. Surgical (open) castration 
The pain of all castration can be reduced if a local anesthetic (e.g. lidocaine) is injected into the scrotal neck prior to castration. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to use the injectable lidocaine, but it is prescription only. I'm not so sure my vet would prescribe it for my use. I like the burdizzo method best.