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HOW TO: Castration

Updated: Sep 1, 2021


Male calves are castrated to:

  • When male and female cattle are kept together in the same herd, unwanted pregnancies can be avoided.

  • Castrates have a slower development rate than intact males, although their fat deposition is higher.

  • Because intact males tend to fight, keep animals from hurting each other. Fences and handling facilities are damaged by fighting bulls.

Male castration can be done in one of three ways:

  • Knife (open wound) castration

  • Elastrator rings

  • Burdizzo or bloodless castration

Knife castration

  • Knife castration is the only entirely safe way of sterilising male animals and can be performed at any age, though older animals should be performed by a competent veterinarian. There is always a risk that the wound will become infected with this type of castration, thus proper care must be done.

  • In young animals, the bottom half of the scrotal sack is cut off, and each testicle is removed by removing the membrane covering the testicle and extruding the appropriate testicle. To prevent bleeding, the spermatic cord and arteries are severed with a scraping motion. Excessive bleeding can also be prevented by tying off the spermatic arteries.

Elastrator rings

  • The elastrator ring, a rubber ring, is wrapped around the neck of the scrotal sack with a particular equipment intended for this purpose. The testicles must be distal (away from the calf's body) to the elastrator ring in the scrotal sack. The testicles and the scrotal sack distal to the elastrator ring deteriorate and fall off after a while.

  • Short scrotum castration can be used when fat accumulation is not desired, but the farmer desires the higher growth rates associated with intact males. The testicles are pressed against the bull's body, and the elastrator ring is attached to the scrotum distal (away from the body) to the testicles, but in such a way that the testicles remain firmly in touch with the body. This type of bull is infertile, grows healthily, and has the same fat deposition as intact males.

  • Many veterinarians argue that using elastrator rings in cattle is cruel and inhumane. To reduce pain, the rubber ring method of castration must be administered within three days of delivery, which might be difficult because the testicles of certain calves remain in the body cavity for a period of time post-partum.


  • The burdizzo is a device used to cut off the blood supply to the testicles, causing cell death in the testicular tissues and testicular degeneration. The burdizzo should be applied as soon as the spermatic cords can be felt, which is three to four weeks after birth. The burdizzo does not operate effectively in older animals because the connective tissue in the spermatic cord grows with age, preventing the device from fulfilling its function. Bulls older than 4 months become more difficult to burdizzo as they age.

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