Reply To: Castration

  • theholisticgoat

    August 20, 2023 at 12:29 pm

    I think we are doing our animals a disservice by allowing fear of urinary calculi to dictate later castration. Nutrition and genetics determine the risk of UC and while you can argue that a larger urethra will allow stones to pass through more easily (show me the data that urethra size significantly changes in intact vs. castrated males, please, but it won’t change my mind because:), we’re missing the forest for the trees. Why not see to nutrition and eliminate the main cause of urinary calculi instead of waiting to castrate when the waiting is proven to cause increased pain? If I’m forcing gravel through a pipe, shouldn’t I eliminate the source of the gravel instead of getting all upset that the pipe isn’t large enough to accommodate it? By allowing fear to dominate, we are causing greater harm to our animals.

    “The animal welfare implications of late castration are beginning to be a force in the beef industry. As guidelines are being established for pain prevention and control, castration is recognized as one of the most stressful and painful experiences for livestock by measuring blood cortisol concentrations and the levels of specific brain neurotransmitters which are associated with pain in food-producing animals. Visible pain responses to castration include struggling, kicking, tail swishing, and restlessness during the procedure followed by swelling, stiffness, and increased recumbency (lying down) whether surgical or nonsurgical techniques are used. Blood cortisol levels, used as an indication of pain, spike almost immediately from surgical castration and clamping while banding causes a slower yet longer period of cortisol elevation. Banded calves have actually shown signs of pain in response to scrotal palpation a month or longer than calves that were clamped.

    Perhaps the most important fact gleaned from the many studies conducted on castration is: the earlier the better. Calves castrated from 1-7 days old showed very few behaviors associated with pain and their plasma cortisol levels were essentially the same as the calves left intact. The risk of hemorrhage and infection is much lower, the risk of injury to the person performing the castration is lower, and the procedure is relatively quick and easy.”