Castrating rams??greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I have been raising sheep for a few years with good success.
Last year I decided that I would keep a few of my ram lambs to eat. As it turns out, I really don't want to eat them as I have unfortunately grown rather fond of them (yeah, I know.....)
Anyway, I won't be breeding them either.
I could sell them but I would consider keeping them since they have fleeces that I like.
My question is if anyone out there has had experience with castrating rams at an older age (mine are about 10 months old). NO, I am not interested in banding them at this time. I mean, instead: having surgery. I know this sounds completely nuts, but I ask the question sincerely.
Any veterinarians wanna take a stab (sorry! couldn't resist) at this one?
Please let me know. Thanks!
-- sheepish (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 26, 2000
Sheepish, it certainly can be done. Sooner rather than later. If they have horns, I don't really know what will happen. I assume they'll slough off in time. What if any problems that might cause is something to discuss with your vet. Flies could be a problem depending on where you live.
The castrating is relatively easy, couple of slits, a couple of cuts. I'd have a vet do it. Some vets will numb the area, some won't. While it seems like it would be best to numb the area first, I'm not sure that the pain of the needles in the area is any better than just going ahead and cutting. Also shortens the total time you're working (over) each ram. And don't anybody flame me, for many years I had my cavities filled sans novacaine. Hurt like heck, but still not as agonizing as those stinking shots.
And don't forget to have your recipe for Rocky Mountain Oysters handy. Gerbil
-- Gerbil (email@example.com), January 26, 2000.
Hi sheepish, have you ever castrated baby rams? The procedure for adults is very similar. In case you haven't done the young ones before, I'll describe the procedure here. First, you get a helper ( a strong one if you're doing grown rams) to help you. He should hold the ram so that he is holding the front legs with the back of the ram facing him. The ram should be sitting and half leaning back on the helper. They are fairly easy to control in this position. Now, you want to have on hand a sharp knife and something like alchohol or peroxide, as well as a bleach solution. Sterilize the knife before you use it . What you want to do now is to cut a third of the scrotal sac off now, without cutting into the testicles. Try to do it quickly. Then pull each testicle and it's cord out one at a time. You want to get the whole cord. Now, for a little ram, you just pull until the cord pulls out. They will yell when you do this, or you could cut it. A ram has a lot more blood supply invested in that area, so with a grown ram you scrape the cord off rather than just going and cutting it. Their cords are more strongly attached, so don't try to pull until the cord tears. If you have any sulfa bloodstop powder, sprinkle it on the cord, it will disinfect the area too. Then do the other side. Disinfect the knife by dipping it in the bleach water between sheep. You might want to put some peroxide on the wound after you're done, but I do not. The empty sac will heal up in a short time. Now is a good time to do it because there are no flies around.For what it's worth, this is how sheep and angora goats are castrated on most large ranches across the country, and they don't use anesthetic, not when they have to do 2000 at a time! It is actually more humane than banding them, and they suffer less shock and recover better. Banding makes them suffer for hours and even days, and then there is gangrene to worry about. And, sometimes one of the testicles will slip back inside somehow and surprise, you have a bunch of 4-5 month old doelings or ewes bred long before they are ready. My Father in law is a veterinarian and this is how he does it. Now what I wonder about is why can't a person just vasectomize the animal rather than castrating it? All you would have to do is to make a little slit on each side and pull the cord out and sever it. For livestock, such an animal could be used as a teaser ram or buck, and I would llike to find out (I'll ask the father in law) if the procedure could be adapted for dogs. Then they wouldn't get fat and lazy from being neutered, but no puppies, and, if there was a female, they'd maybe run the other dogs away from her so she wouldn't get bred by a dog that could actually inseminate her. I don't care if anyone flames me, this is farming, not the animal rights center!
-- Rebekah (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 26, 2000.
Thanks for your replies!
My spouse has actually done the ranch thing before. He has described everyone covered with blood as they went through the process. One guy used to hold the testicles in his mouth and bite off the cords with his teeth (or so I have been told!). They used to dock and castrate, innoculate and tag ears at the same time. They used a spray disinfectant and did thousands at a time. Yikes. Anyway, my husband isn't too interested in doing this again, from his conversation... so it would be ME doing this while he's not around! (He's worth it for many, many other reasons!)
I have done the docking, innoculations, etc. but never this. Is there (don't laugh) a book or something with illustrations?
Thanks for your help. I have gone through times in my life when either the vet or the feed store has laughed at me as I learned...but you know what, I laugh about those times now myself!
-- sheepish (email@example.com), January 26, 2000.
Hi, sheepish, I also worked on a ranch like that, except the year that I helped they used bands on the tails and for the castrating. I have heard that occasionally there will be a jerk who wants to act macho by using his teeth or forcing boys to swallow them whole as an initiation rite, but I don't think using the teeth is very sanitary. I guess maybe it bothers the men so they come up with a show of bravado.But in all honesty, I enjoyed working at the lamb docking. I'd love to do it again,it was fun to work with all those sheep. If your husband won't help you hold them( he can shut his eyes!)then you will need someone else to help you.When I did my goat kids,my little boy held them for me.He was 4 or 5 at the time. Maybe get an experienced sheep or goat keeper to help you so they can tell you what to do and expect. It is really not difficult to do after you get over cutting into a live animal the first time.
-- Rebekah (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 26, 2000.
Oh boy, I would feel more comfortable having a vet do it, especially an older ram. They can really jump around and if those blood vessels aren't tied or crushed you could have a lot of blood loss. Besides if the vet does one, you can watch and learn. My vet gave my guys a mild sedative and than a local antisethetic. After it was all over, I decided that there was a reason she went to vet school and I didn't need to know how to do every thing. As far as vasectomizing those rams, yes they would be sterile and good teaser rams, but would still have that ram disposition. I like my 2 wethers...not just for their wool, but they come in handy to keep my various rams company when they're not with the ewes. Hope this helps.
-- Kate Henderson (email@example.com), January 26, 2000.
OOPS! I forgot about the books. There is a very good book called SIDS, it's a flock management notebook actually. Lot's of good info and pictures. Sometimes the feed stores sell them or try any of the sheep magazines you may get. I think SHEEP! sells it t
-- Jennifer Schwabauer (Schwabauer@aol.com), January 27, 2000.
Rebekah's description is about spot on. Be a good thing if you could get someone experienced to show you how, then supervise, the first time - that is, unless it really is going to be the only time. Far better to use the rings when they're younger - I can only imagine the pain of cutting and ripping, but a steady ache for a few hours has to be at least less bad, if not exactly better. May still be better to use the rings (but use two put on one after another, for insurance) if the rams are still small enough. Any time you use the rings, make SURE you've got both testicles.
One thing - if you do use the knife, make sure that enough of the bottom of the scrotum is cut away - it has to be able to drain completely, with no possible pockets that won't drain.
The teeth are DEFINITELY not a good idea - used to be done, back when workmen couldn't readily afford knives, then again as said for macho and initiation, but it can serve as a source of infection - for the sheep.
The rams have got what they've got, they'll keep anything that's not cut away (like horns); and anything (temper, horns) dependent on male hormone may keep growing, though slowing down, for a few months.
-- Don Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 27, 2000.
You guys are great! Thanks for the replies.
Yeah, I think having the vet out to do it the first time is probably best. I have done a few things by sheer necessity without watching someone else (repositioning lambs before birth, etc). but since this isn't a dire emergency, I think I should learn from someone who knows what they are doing.
Now I guess I had better have a bake sale (!) or a paper drive (!) or something to get enough $$ to pay for this...sounds like it will be expensive. Farm calls alone here start at $40 just for the trip (3 miles from town!!) Got 2 or 3 critters to do.
Yeah, my husband is a little squeamish I think when it comes to messing around with testicles. And his experience on the ranch wasn't pleasant! Besides it was eons ago. But he's great with lambing, and all I have to do is mention "barn" or "fence" or "hay" and he's all over it. So I guess this one "project" can excuse him! (And I'm sure he'd rather eat these boys, anyway!)
I'll check out the publication. Seems like it would be a good resource.
-- sheepish (email@example.com), January 27, 2000.
Sheepish, Don't forget after you have castrated your boys to alter their feed to contain less protein or perhaps you already use a feed with ammonium chloride in it for Urinary Calculi. And being a Dairy Goat owner I just can't help myself to say this, but why would you waste your money castrating, vaccinating, feeding, trimming feet etc. on animals that can not reproduce. You could sell them for meat and use the money for a really nice ewe replacement with just as nice wool, she would eat less and reproduce herself. We see over and over, people who keep everything every born at their farm, they eventually get so much stock they go out of business. Boys are either breeders or meat. And honestly unless you have people standing in line waiting for your ewes to kid to purchase a bloodline ram from you, your boys are all meat. I hope you will take this in the spirit in which it is intended. Sincerely, Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 28, 2000.
Thanks for your honest opinion.
You know, I think I have some idea of how couples with more than 2 children might feel when they get asked why they didn't limit themselves to having just enough offspring to replace themselves with!
If we were commercial wool growers, or relied on what we produce here to get us through our economic lives, we would be in debtors prison for several consecutive life sentences!
We have always intended to keep our flock around 20 head. That's sustainable on our acreage, with some grain and a little hay to make it through the times when the grass isn't growing (we live in western Washington and grass grows here like New Zealand). I have 16 sheep presently, and a few more on the way. Also a lot of "neighbors" raise sheep and want more, etc. Our local spinning guild, which meets in my town, has 40-50 people every month. Selling clean wool is not a problem. I have people asking me all the time if they can buy locker lambs from us..... So I can pretty confidently say that I could "liquidate" my flock pretty easily if I wanted to.
My true confession: These guys are more like pets! ( I know, get a life..)
The comments about the bake sale and/or paperdrive were a little tongue in cheek, and sorry, I guess it might have sounded like I was serious. I was really kind of grousing about the trip charge for all of 6 miles, round trip..
There are a few of us folk who have worked hard all our lives and saved and done without, and now that we have some measure of comfort, are indulging ourselves a bit.
But you are absolutely right in the true economy of the situation.
Thank you for your reply.
-- sheepish (email@example.com), January 28, 2000.
You may want to consider any local Amish ,they do a great job and very reasonable.As for dogs , its a wives tale about them getting fat after castration .It just so happens that this is done when there growth rate is slowing down and we forget to decrease there food intake .Also there activity slows down as they mature
-- Patty Gamble (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 28, 2000.
I can't really compare having wethered rams as just pets as goat bucks would be. If they produce nice fleeces and you have a market for them, which it sounds like you do, I definetly feel they are worth keeping (and possibly having to invest $ initially to have them castrated) Those wethers will be easy keepers on just good grass or hay. Just think of no toxemia, prolapses or mastitis to deal with! In Australia and New Zealand they run whole flocks of just wethers for the economic value of the wool. I think eventually we will downsize from our 50+ ewes to having a flock of a dozen wethers so I can spin away into my old age! Just a thought as the lambing season approaches and all those sleepless nights lie ahead!
-- Kate Henderson (email@example.com), January 28, 2000.
You know, I don't know this for sure, but I would be surprized if there were any Amish around where I live. We have some Mormons, some garden variety Christians, some old hippie communes from even the '60's, and the occasional Microsoft millionaire (and more moving this way all the time) around here. If anyone is Amish and lives in western Washington state or knows if there are some around, I would be interested in knowing.
As for ourselves, we will probably hang out here for a few more years and then head over the Cascades to Eastern Washington (more desert, less people) when we can't stand it anymore. Then the people over there will be bummed because everyone is moving over there! What a migrating group of Americans we are!
Thank you for your reply.
-- sheepish (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 29, 2000.
Maybe one of your neighbors that raise sheep can help you do it or tell you about what their experience with it has been.
-- Rebekah (email@example.com), January 29, 2000.
We live in up state N.Y. and was surprised to find an Amish community .Hope you get to move soon , it was the best thing we ever did for ourselfs and the kids
-- Patty Gamble (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 29, 2000.
I will try asking around if anyone has done this more locally. I thought maybe I would ask at the feed store, too. Most of the folk right around here have spinners flocks: i.e. a few ewes and wethers, not currently breeding any and with about as much experience as I have.
I think I will also ask the folks I bought my original stock from (they live quite a ways away, tho) and also folks who have sheared for me. I am now prepared to take some flak from folks that I ask...but know that it can be done.
I still thank everyone for their advice and opinions.
-- sheepish (email@example.com), January 30, 2000.
Sheepish,if you go ahead and move to Eastern washington, let me know. I live nearby in northern Idaho and I'd be happy to get together and show you how to do it.
-- Rebekah (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 30, 2000.
Sheepish,sorry to keep posting back on this subject, but I talked with a good friend last night who knows a lot about animals. When people call the vet about goats, he refers them to her because she knows more!Anyhow, she said that yes, she's done it herself many times, on sheep, buck goats, and stallions. She also said that rather than scraping the cord off or cutting it, she pulls it as hard as she can until it snaps and that there is little bleeding. She said that it closes off the blood vessels so they are constricted. I know that this probably won't help you any if you can't get any help, but thought you might like to know what she said. I think the hardest part is looking at an animal you like and then cutting it,but after the first time it is easier.
-- Rebekah (email@example.com), January 31, 2000.
When I worked with a vet he did neuters the same way .It did cut down on the bleeding . I also now some horse people who do it the same way ,they say there is more problems with the anesthea , and the pain doesn't last to long .I dont know but I can almodt feel the pain and I'm female
-- Patty Gamble (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 2000.
I wrote to Sheepish directly because no one has mentioned tetanus. Sheep are very susceptible to it and even if they are vaccinated with tetanus toxoid as babies, these rams should be given a booster of tetanus antitoxin when the deed is done. Tetanus isn't a pretty way to die, if there is such a thing and the shots aren't expensive. We do our own shots for the sheep, goats, dogs and cats. Some materials we get from a vet supply outlet, some directly from our vet who is very reasonable and understands the farmer's pocketbook.
Also, a vasectomized male is just as dangerous as an intact breeding male. He's shooting blanks but the testosterone is still there. One day it will kick in and the sweet pet critter is changed.
-- Marilyn (email@example.com), January 31, 2000.
I am so amazed at all your responses!! Thank you so much.
Regarding tetanus. I vaccinate CD/T and do boosters. But I have done penicllin before anything potentially infect-able.
Regarding rams. Good point. I do understand their aggression. I have been the recipient of a few body blocks from adult rams I have known. (maybe I should go on WWF Smack Down, or whatever that show is on teevee, with my tag team of ram boys...anyway...) It ain't pleasant. Incredible what 250+ pounds of mostly muscle can do, especially when it's focused!
-- sheepish (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 2000.
I would think If there nutered right they would much calmer,horses even when used as stallions are after nutering if done right. Although if proud cut you end up with a gelding who thinks he is still a stallion.
-- kathy h (email@example.com), February 01, 2000.