• theholisticgoat

    August 20, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    Here’s a 1995 study that compared cortisol and white blood cell count between surgically castrated, banded and control (left intact) bull calves. The bottom line: both castrated groups experienced higher cortisol and WBC. “These results indicate that the cortisol
    response for SUR was an acute, intense elevation of
    short duration, and that for BAN was of less initial
    intensity but also of short duration.”

  • theholisticgoat

    August 20, 2023 at 12:14 pm


    This article discusses different methods and cites sources regarding cortisol levels and other studies done on various methods.

  • theholisticgoat

    August 20, 2023 at 12:21 pm

    Effects of surgical or banding castration on stress responses and behaviour of bulls

    Conclusion: The banding procedure produced fewer acute effects, but a greater suppression of growth than surgical castration and induced prolonged wound formation in the older age group, suggesting that this procedure may not be as suitable for yearling cattle.”

    My note: I’m going to go out on a very unpopular limb here and say that I no longer advocate for the extended wait time to castrate goat kids. The two factors that actually contribute to urinary calculi are: nutrition and genetics. It doesn’t matter how much time the urethra had to develop if you don’t have the first two factors correct. Stones will form regardless of urethra size but one thing we can control is the amount of pain we subject our animals to.

    Growing up in the cattle industry, we banded calves at a day old. They displayed very minimal signs of discomfort. I have banded goat kids from a couple weeks to a few months and have no doubt in my mind that the older the goat is at castration, the more discomfort he feels. This is an area where we have collectively allowed FEAR of what could be to create more harm in the NOW, causing pain to our goats because they might have more pain later if we don’t. I don’t find any evidence anywhere that compels me to agree banding later will reduce the risk of UC. But I do have evidence right here in this post that there are disadvantages to later castration. Read the research in the post above this for more information on pain and age of 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.”

Log in to reply.