New to cattle...just had a calf?!

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by John Schneider, Jul 11, 2006.

  1. John Schneider

    John Schneider Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    445
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Location:
    Spruce Grove, Alberta
    Alright...relatively new to cattle, but not new to livestock by any stretch of the imagination. We had a little bull calf born on the weekend so now I need to castrate. Can I please get some advice on when, how etc. I have castrated hogs, so I am not beyond cutting this calf either...I just don't know when I should do it or maybe somebody has some tips before I simply wrestle him to the ground with a scalpel in my hand! Is it easier to wait until he is older and use a chute? Do it now when he is small? Wait till prior to weaning? What's an emasculator? Any and all advice considered valuable! Thanks.
     
  2. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

    Messages:
    3,841
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2005
    Location:
    KS
    An emasculator is a tool that crushes the cords that carry the semen. There is no blood or cutting involved. This method has the highest failure rate though. There is no way to look at the animal afterward to tell if the job was done right.

    On our farm we find that it is easiest to use a rubber bander when the calf is a couple of weeks old. The calf is small enough that it's no big deal to handle him then. Many people find this method unappealing because then you have to see the nuts shrivel and fall off which takes a few weeks. We have had a good success rate with this method. It's pretty easy to make sure you have both testicles in the scrotum before you put on the rubber band. You can get rubber banders for any size bull but we prefer to do this when they are small. Another benefit is that we don't have to worry about what time of year it is when we castrate them. With the rubber bander there isn't any open wound for flies to lay eggs in.

    Then there is the good old fashioned cutting. There is no mistake the job was done right when your holding the nuts in your hand. Haven't dealt too much with this method personally. The guys we've talked to around here usually wait untill after a good frost so there is no danger of flies laying eggs in the wounds. I'm sure you'll get plenty of advice on this subject from others.

    Congradulations on the new calf!
    Heather
     

  3. John Schneider

    John Schneider Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    445
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Location:
    Spruce Grove, Alberta
    Thanks Heather...always appreciate your advice and help. There is a picture of the little guy on our farm blog www.goldforestfarms.blogspot.com
    He looks like a little buffalo! I need to check if the banding is allowed under Organic Standards...something tells me it isn't. It sounds simple enough.
     
  4. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,484
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Location:
    Florida
    There are different methods of doing things because different people have different preferences. I personally prefer to castrate with a scalpel. It takes less than a minute per calf, and the scrotum is usually completely healed by the time they dry up with the bander. I live in Florida where flies can be a real problem. I usually spray the scrotum with an antiseptic spray afterwards. I keep a eye on it for the first few days, and respray if needed, but I just never have a problem.

    The only thing I do differently on calves is to pull the scrotum out and slice about 1/2" off the bottom of scrotum. This seems to me to help with drainage and infection. After that it's almost identical to castrating a pig. If you've castrated pigs, you won't have any problem at all.
     
  5. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

    Messages:
    3,841
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2005
    Location:
    KS
    You're right, the little dude looks just like a buffalo! Glad to see that things are going well with your new cow and calf.

    I'd be interested in knowing what the organic standards are for castrating when you figure that out.

    Heather
     
  6. lgslgs

    lgslgs Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,429
    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
    Location:
    Southeast Ohio
    That little fuzzy guy in the photo is just adorable!

    Too bad you are thinking of the freezer for him. If his mom is good natured he'd make a really nice working steer.

    Lynda
     
  7. John Schneider

    John Schneider Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    445
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Location:
    Spruce Grove, Alberta
    Lynda...what is a working steer? Trust me, the kids would like to think up a way to be able to keep our very first calf! Are you talking about a draft animal?

    With castrating a pig, I simply make two slits...one on each side of the scrotum. It sounds as though you actually cut the bottom off of the scrotum? Is this correct?
     
  8. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,484
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Location:
    Florida
    Yes, and then you make the slit on the membrane on each side of the scrotum. The testicle will pop out, and from there it is exactly the same.

    And yes, a working steer is a draft animal. Technically an ox is not an ox until he is 4 years old. Until that time he is a working steer.
     
  9. John Schneider

    John Schneider Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    445
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Location:
    Spruce Grove, Alberta
    Thanks, I think I understand now.

    A working steer....that is what I have a tractor for I suppose. Would be nice to keep our first, but a freezer full of beef is worth a lot more to our family than a draft animal. We'll see.
     
  10. lgslgs

    lgslgs Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,429
    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
    Location:
    Southeast Ohio
    He could be used for ox work or as a riding steer. Riding training is actually very easy if you start when they are tiny. Just get them used to you standing over them in cow riding position. Do that every day until you feet come off the ground.

    With our cow, she thought that cow riding position also means "stand still". We are cool with that and figured we'd teach walking with a rider as she got bigger. We now have a yearling cow who stands steady as you climb up on her, and who will lead on a halter or for treats while carrying a rider. We'll train moving on command more as she gets bigger, but for now still want her to err on the side of holding still. On flat ground it is quite a job to climb on her and she's very good with not moving an inch as we climb and scale her like a mini-mountain. :)

    We prefer her to a tractor because she can work on steep terrain and in sloppy mud - and we have plenty of both. Enough of both, in fact, that a tractor or ATV would be of very limited use to us. She's also good on snow and was hauling tree stumps on a Walmart sled last winter when when she was about 6 months old. She'll earn her keep just pulling the wood chipper to the top of the hill - up paths that you can't drive half the year.

    If your kids are attached to him (and want to keep him alive) they could always ox train him and then make a nice profit selling him as a trained working animal. Rural Heritage and Berry Brook Ox Supply are good places to get ox training info. And check out how much a trained animal sells for. :)

    An ad in Rural Heritage for a trained single ox that has been trained for riding as well, and who has Highland good looks, would get the attention of small homesteaders. Homesteaders with steep hills and timber would find him a lot more useful than a tractor.

    Lynda
     
  11. John Schneider

    John Schneider Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    445
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Location:
    Spruce Grove, Alberta
    Thanks Lynda...all very interesting. It does go along with what we are trying to accomplish on our farm. I will check out some draft equipment and we'll make a decision. Thank you for your input.
     
  12. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

    Messages:
    3,841
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2005
    Location:
    KS
    John - I'd go with the knife cut. Nuttin' like Rocky Mountain Oysters with a glass of cold beer. :)
     
  13. John Schneider

    John Schneider Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    445
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2005
    Location:
    Spruce Grove, Alberta
    Up here they are called Prairie Oysters LOL I am not sure about that though. I suppose I shouldn't say no until I have tried them! We'll see.