Docking & Castrating

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by justadad, Dec 11, 2003.

  1. justadad

    justadad Active Member

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    So what do some of you prefer doing calling the vet or doing it yourself? If you do it on your own which methods and tools do you prefer?

    Craig
     
  2. Kasidy

    Kasidy Well-Known Member

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    I would think that unless you only have one lamb you will be paying a ridiculous amount of money to your vet for a job that is quick and easy to do yourself.
    I use an elastrator with those little green rubber bands on both tails and testicles. I lamb in early March when it is cold up here (Montana) and have NEVER had any infection or other problems---that is doing around a hundred lambs every year. I do them when I move them from the small pens to the mixing pen at about two days of age. Just be very sure to get BOTH testicles down into the scrotum. You can feel them very clearly--like two little almonds. Sometimes you have to flip the lamb upside down and push gently on the belly to keep them out while you slide the band over them. When you do the tails---especially on little ewes that may be kept for breeding---leave at least a little stub. If you take the tail off flush with the body it can weaken the muscles and cause a problem with prolapsing when the ewe is pregnant. The elastrators do not cost a lot and the bands are real cheap.
    The lambs do flop around and cry for a little while. So I do them in the small pens before I turn them out so they have Mom close by and aren't lying down in the snow or cold. I give them a few hours to adjust and they are up and going just fine when they go out to meet the group.
    After a few weeks you will find little dried up tails and scrotums all over the place (or the dog will find them---yuch!!!!!)
     

  3. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    I'm a do-it-yourselfer; I only have to worry about castrating, though, as my breed has a naturally short tail that isn't docked. I use an elastrator, & will use it on a ram lamb as long as I can get the scrotum & testicles through the band - up to about 3 1/2 months, in Shetlands. I can't even find testicles to hold them in the band on some of these guys before 3 weeks (in triplets), so the earliest I do them is 2 weeks (singles or twins). I want to evaluate horns & fleece as long as I can on lambs, plus I show some at the fair which is why I do some late. They don't seem real upset, they may lie down for a few minutes, but then they are up bouncing around pretty quickly. I don't do but the occasional adult castration, if I have an adult ram that just didn't pan out, but has really nice fleece, I will call a vet in on those.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I use an elastrator too. I've thought of a docking iron clamp tool (what ever they're called, been a long day) but I just can't justifie the cost. I did switch to little orange bands from the green ones. They are a softer rubber and seem to stay on the pliers better! I dock my ewe lambs with longer than average tails to prevent prolapses. It's part of the answer alright! No show sheep here, and never will be if the tail has to be too short. I do most of my ram lambs as cryptorchid rams pushign the testies into the body and banding the sack. They're 95% sterile as a group grow a little faster (maybe) and it's a heck of a lot easier. They sell better to the middle eastern crowd too. Don't bother docking "wether" tails at all. Faster ID from the rear and they get a right ear tag as opposed to a left ear ewe tag location. I'd call a vet for a keeper adult too, and have had rams vasecomized to become teasers too. I suppose I could learn it but my vet's a nice guy, and always worth a call now and then.
     
  5. justadad

    justadad Active Member

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    Thanks to all of you, i really appreciate your advice!
    Craig
     
  6. Polly in NNY

    Polly in NNY Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Ross about the cryptorchids. If it's a wether lamb that I will sell to a handspinner I will try to get both testicles down in the scrotum but otherwise I do what Ross does.
    As Kassidy mentioned about leaving a stub of a tail to prevent future problems, I count 2 or 3 vertebrae down and band them there. Since doing this I've never had a prolapsed ewe. Knock on wood.
    Ross, where do you get the orange bands? I hate those green ones. They always seem to pop off!
     
  7. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Poly I get them from this store (not the web page)Wool growers Give them a call I think the tool free number works. I have to go there next week and get my meat lambs their little pink tags. :p
     
  8. Kasidy

    Kasidy Well-Known Member

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    It is always so interesting to hear what other markets want in lambs. Up here in Montana where I live they will pull a lamb who has a long tail or who looks "bucky" out of the group at the livestock auction yard and give you a lower price!! Not that the lambs stay here to be fattened and sold (much less eaten!) I loved the look of those long tailed sheep I saw when I was in Britain. Would love to leave them on mine, but I need every cent I can make out of them, so follow what the stock buyers want.
     
  9. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Good point they would draw a lower price at auction here too. Which is why I don't auction them!
     
  10. Kasidy

    Kasidy Well-Known Member

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    Well, there isn't much of a choice up here. It is either direct to a livestock buyer or through the auction yards. So I try to give the buyers what they want. There is very little demand for lamb up here in the north country and only a tiny direct to buyer market. Many grocery stores don't even carry lamb. The old time cowman I am married to would rather fix himself a bowl of canned chili than eat a couple of nice lamb chops when I cook them!! But I love raising sheep and manage to make more per acre of pasture and pound of hay than we do on the cattle most years, so I will keep at it.
     
  11. LeahN

    LeahN Well-Known Member

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    I do it myself. Last year I used a double-crush emasculator (crushes and cuts at the same time) for the tails. I only had 5 ram lambs, and I didn't castrate before I sold them. I likes the emasculator because once we got the hand of it, there was no blood, and even when we were docking our first lamb, they only cry for about a second. Once the tail drops off they settle down, and we hold the clamp down for a minute or so. When done well, the end of the tail looks surprisingly neat (as in no blood, even cut) and it heals fast. We trickle some pine-tar on to prevent flies and some bloodstop powder just in case. Also, whatever method you use, be sure the lambs are either protected through passive transfew from the ewe for tetanus, of give them a tetanus antoxin shot at the time of docking/castrating. I never use all 4.5ml that come in the bottle for a lamb, but I use 1.5ml. This year, I"m vaccinating my ewes, so I won't need to give my lambs the tetanus antoxin...its cheaper to vaccinate the ewes, especially if you expect to have multiple births.
    I just banded a yearling ram's tail 3 days ago. After talking to dozens of people, most recommended just banding it. It was so non-eventful. He didn't even notice. I gave him penicillan for 3 days, and tetanus antitoxin when I did it. He seems just fine, and I think I'll do my 4 tailled ewes that way too. I have them penned up tonight to do tomorrow after I pick up some more tetanus antitoxin.
    I'd imagine having the vet out to do it for all the lambs would be cost prohibitive. Ross, what does your vet charge for the vasectomy? I'd eventually like to have a teaser ram, but I'm worried about the 5% fertility that crypting a lamb would have...I'd rather be sure he's sterile.
     
  12. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    It's been awhile but was $100 last time and I'd think it wouldn't be more than $150 now. (he switched clinics) I will suggest he can drop in anytime he likes and we'll just set up quick and get it done. There's a milage charge so I'm thinking of what else he can do when he gets here. Teasers help but aren't quite as reliable as synchronising with PMSG
     
  13. LeahN

    LeahN Well-Known Member

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    A vasectomy to make a teaser was just something I thought about with the first lamb born here...we'd grown a little attached to him. I ended up selling him to a woman for training her border collies, so it was a compromise. He's not ending up on someone plate :)
    I wouldn't be so much interested in synchronization, but more in breeding to a teaser, then putting a fertile ram in so the ewes aren't getting bred on their first ovulation and will have a higher percentage of multiple births. I don't need one this year, since at least 22 of my 31 ewes are going to be lambing for the first time this spring, so singles will be fine. I haven't yet figured if at some point it will be worth it economically with my sheep, since I expect a good lambing percentage without one, and the cost of the procedure and feeding him may not be worth it compared with the added income of a few extra lambs. My guess is, it wouldn't. Maybe though, since it wouldn't take but a few extra lambs to make up for the cost.
    I'm finally almost finished with worming for the winter and vaccinating. Also banded the tails on five 8month to adult sheep. Glad thats over with. I just have my 4 june-born ewe lambs to worm and vaccinate. And some pasture rearranging to do. I put one ewe in with my group of ewes that need a little grain to get them in better condition. The next morning she was back in her old pasture!
    Got to use my new premier 3000s shearers! Just on shearing the tails before I banded, but it seemed to work great. I'll give it the true test in February when I begin shearing them all. I've never sheared except for once with a pair of hand shears. We had a professional shearer out last year, since we hadn't yet bought electric shears of our own.
    Leah
     
  14. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    My interest in having a teaser ram or two is to tighten up lambing time. With 200 ewes synchronizing is pretty important. I suppose they do boost conception rates too but like you I don't really have that problem to worry about.