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Castration of calves: a study of methods used by farmers in the United Kingdom
  1. J. E. Kent, BSc MSc1,
  2. M. V. Thrusfleld, BVMS, MSc, DTVM, CBiol, MIBiol, MRCVS2,
  3. I. S. Robertson, BSc, PhD2 and
  4. V. Molony, BVSc, MSc, PhD, MRCVS1
  1. 1 Department of Preclinical Veterinary Sciences, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1QH
  2. 2 Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Veterinary Field Station, Easter Bush, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG


A postal survey of farmers was conducted to determine the main methods used to castrate calves, and by whom and how they were applied. Among the 28 per cent of farmers who replied, those who did castrate calves used one or more of three methods: the Burdizzo was used by 43 per cent of farmers, surgery by 39 per cent, and rubber rings by 32 per cent, with 10 per cent using more than one method. Calves were castrated at all ages from less than one week to over six months, with one third of them being castrated at an age that legally requires the operation to be done under local anaesthesia by a veterinary surgeon . Rubber rings were never used by veterinary surgeons, but they carried out 43 per cent of surgical castrations, which was the method of choice in older calves. Local anaesthetic was used on 15 per cent of farms, mainly for surgical castrations. Sixty-seven per cent of farmers using the Burdizzo applied it twice, with the majority correctly applying the second crush below the first, and 90 per cent used precautions to control infection after surgical castration.

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