How to castrate a cow

How to castrate a cow is one of the leading questions asked by farmers in order to boost their farm’s productivity. General Management Practices in dairy farming for you to consider.

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How to castrate a cow / Castration

Male calves are castrated to prevent unwanted mating where male and female cattle are reared together in one herd. In addition, castrated males are easier to handle and they produce better quality meat.

There are several ways to answer the question of how to castrate a cow. Castration can be done by using an elastrator ring, burdizzo or open castration using a knife.

Knife castration:

This is the only completely safe method to sterilize male animals and can be done at any age by a qualified veterinarian. With this method of castration, there is always a danger that the wound can become infected and the necessary precautions must be taken.

Elastrator rings:

The rubber ring is applied around the neck of the scrotal sack using the special instrument designed for this purpose. The testicles must be in the scrotal sack distal (away from the body of the calf) to the elastrator ring. To minimize pain when using the rubber ring method of castration, they must be applied within three days of birth.

A strong rubber ring is placed around the top of the testicles thus cutting off the blood supply. The testicles die off slowly.

The burdizzo:

This is an instrument used to cut off the blood supply to the testicles, causing cell death of the testicular tissues resulting in degeneration of the testicles. The best time to apply the burdizzo is three to four weeks after birth when the spermatic cords can be felt.

The burdizzo is applied to each spermatic cord separately in such a way that the blood supply to the testicles is damaged, while circulation to the scrotal sack remains intact. Gangrene can set in where blood circulation to the scrotum is lost.

To achieve these objectives, the burdizzo is applied to the individual spermatic cords at opposite sides of the scrotum, leaving a central area free for blood to circulate or applying the burdizzo at different levels on opposite sides of the scrotum.

The equipment is used to clamp and crush the top of the testicles


Horned cows are not only dangerous to people working with them but cause a great deal of damage to hides. Dehorning also improves the animal’s looks.

Dehorning can be done by several methods.

Hot iron:

Electric, gas, or fire-heated iron is the most common in calves (4 to 6 weeks). When using this method, ensure that the killing of the horn bud is effective otherwise the horn will grow again.

Hot iron dehorning can be done with ease up to the age of 3 months (while the dehorning iron still fits over the bud comfortably), thereafter horn growth is fairly rapid, making surgical removal necessary.

Surgical method:

use of saw or cutting wire: In older animals, surgical procedures must be used, especially if horns have grown to a length of 2 cm or more. The removal of larger horns causes a great deal of pain and anesthetics should be used with dehorning and steps taken to prevent bleeding.

Blood attracts flies and blow-fly strike causes serious problems in open wounds.

Once horns have grown very large, removal of the horns exposes the hollows in the skull and these must be
closed to prevent infection.


Identification of calves should be done immediately after birth to allow efficient and proper recording. Identification can be through various methods:


Hot iron – brand for a short time on the legs so as not to spoil the skin. This is permanent but not common in dairy cattle.


a) ear notching – cut part of the ear using an agreed code. This mark is permanent
but exposes the cow to infection.
b) ear tattooing – difficult to read and does not work in dark animals.
c) ear tagging – use an applicator, easy to read but expensive.

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