A reminder about the regulations for castrating calves

A reminder about the regulations for castrating calves
By Ali Cullum, Veterinarian, Anexa Vet Services Morrinsville

Castration is regulated by the Code of Welfare for Painful Husbandry Procedures. Testicles are a soft tissue structure and are well supplied with blood vessels and nerves. As you can imagine, squashing, tearing or cutting these structures hurts!

If your calves are older than 6 months, by law they need to be surgically castrated by a veterinarian who will give local anaesthesia pain relief and appropriate sedation if necessary.

If they are younger than 6 months, you can use an elastrator ring, but should also be using appropriate pain relief in the form of Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatories and ideally, some local anaesthetic too. Talk to your veterinarian about the available drugs. The younger the animal has the ring applied (ideally around 1 month old), the less painful it is for them, and the smaller the wound is to heal. If castrating during the summer, remember that fly strike is a risk. You can use Ripcord or Blaze as a whole body fly repellent, or a fly repellent hand spray such as Chloromide. Your veterinarian will be happy to advise you on the best course of action.

Remember that although bulls and heifers are not supposed to be fertile before 8 months of age, every year we see “immaculate conceptions” which occur in heifers as young as five months! Early castration will prevent these from happening! Remember also that if you are castrating a mature animal, it can still dispense viable sperm from the upper part of the reproductive tract for 14 – 20 days post-castration.


Date Added: Wednesday, 4th March 2020


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