Steering a Bull Calf

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by pfaubush, Jul 31, 2011.

  1. pfaubush

    pfaubush Well-Known Member

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    I've searched all over, but can't seem to find an answer. Maybe I'm using the wrong search terms. Anyways, at what age should I band my bull calf? My neighbor said around a month old, but my husband's uncle says 4-5 months. They've both done it, so I'm not sure which one to listen to.

    This little guy is a Brown Swiss (so not so little). I can't imagine waiting until he's 4-5 months.
     
  2. rancher1913

    rancher1913 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    you can find lots of threads on this with a little search. you will get the same answers here you already got--anywhere from newborn to year old. depends on which school of thought you listen to as which is right. for myself I think they grow better intact until about 6 months but others on here are atimatly opposed to that and swear you need to do it as quickly as possible. if you don't have a chute i'd suggest you do it soon but if you have a chute i'd wait until weaning.
     

  3. SCRancher

    SCRancher Well-Known Member

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    A couple of problems with doing it when they are older:
    #1 - As Rancher1913 said handling a much larger animal.
    #2 - Newborn just band them and forget them (almost). But castration when older if banding can lead to fatal infection so you must give tetanus shots. If you cut them out then you have to be able to cut them out and again give shots and monitor for infection. You can also use the pinch tools but man that sounds horrible to me and makes me cross my legs.

    For my money I would just rather band as soon as I get 2 danglers - I like easy.
     
  4. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    Sounds like you have a bottle calf so the answer is 3-4 weeks. When I see mine nibbling on grass I band them and burn them. Waiting until 4 weeks will minimize stress on the calf...Topside
     
  5. BlackWillowFarm

    BlackWillowFarm Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have two steers now. The first one was 3.5 months old when he got banded. Got infected but only needed wound spray to keep it under control. He had a couple days where he was depressed and off feed. I babied him for a couple days and made sure he had antibiotic spray a couple times a day. I felt bad for him though. I could tell he was hurting some and he smelled to high heaven of infection.

    The second one got done at 1 month. Other than the initial 24 hours of discomfort he was fine. His just fell off two days ago. No infection, no smell.
     
  6. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    we do it within the first month.
     
  7. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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  8. Catalytic

    Catalytic Well-Known Member

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    Borrowing the thread for a second.

    Do bulls have an off taste to their meat if not castrated? I feel like my best bet once I do get a cow would be to breed her with the calf I'm raising for meat, unless I can find an AI tech around.

    When do bulls start getting harder to handle if they aren't castrated?
     
  9. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    All we ate for years was bull meat. If they were two or younger, we made steaks, roasts and burger. Over 3 years, we made all burger. Tastes great!!

    We just butchered a 5 year old bull. Burger and Brisket....very tasty.

    Hard to handle?? Depends on the bull. I've had some start getting nasty as early as 1.5 years. I have one now that is over 8 years and still ok. But he is the only one I've ever had that old.
    Generally ours needed to be butchered by the time they were 3-4.
     
  10. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I had a long talk with my vet before steering my last bull calf. Here's the gist of what he told me:

    You can band a calf as long as you can fit a band around him. There are some types of banders that will band a full grown bull.

    You can cut a calf or a bull at any age. You can also crush the cords, but he didn't do that and didn't tell me anything about it. I gathered that he preferred not to.

    Flies are a big determining factor in when you do it. If flies are already a problem they can really make it hard on the calf with a wound between it's legs.

    If the calf will be raised for beef, leaving him whole will help him put on weight and can influence his body shape. He suggested that a bull calf that was steered later made better beef, and more of it. He suggested 7 to 8 months. Bull calves may well be fertile by then, so that has to be considered.

    He liked cutting better than banding. He said that the band causes the tissue under the band and below the band to die. The tubes up in the body also die and have to be absorbed. This dead tissue in the body is the reason that you must give a tetanus shot when banding calves.

    He talked me into cutting, and I watched as he did it. First he cut the sack and dropped it on the ground. Then he grasped a testicle and pulled about a foot of tubes outside the body. A quick yank broke them loose and he dropped that testicle on the ground. Repeat with the other side, then a spray with an antiseptic and fly repellent.

    The whole procedure took less than 5 minutes and the calf showed no signs of discomfort and was not upset when it was over. He didn't seem to be in any hurry to walk away.

    Healing took place over the next week. I looked every day to see if there was a problem, but there wasn't. It has now been 2 months and the hair has covered the site. He doesn't even have a lump.

    What convinced me to have him cut was the dead tissue that would be left inside to be absorbed by the body. My vet said that a banded calf occasionally died, but he'd never had one die after cutting.

    If you've ever been a fan of The Pioneer Woman's web site, you've probably seen the pictures she posts of the annual cutting that takes place on their ranch.

    One other advantage to cutting is the ability to know absolutely, positively, that you've gotten both testicles. When you see both of them laying on the ground, you never have a doubt.
     
  11. Catalytic

    Catalytic Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! I'm planning to take an AI course on goats, but if I can't make it, my plan for both goats and cows is to buy a male, use it for breeding, blood test to confirm pregnancy, and then butcher it. For cows, I figure my best bet is to start with a calf, once I have a cow in milk, I'll be able to use the cow to feed it until weaning, and I expect to have at least some grazing or production out of my land to reduce feeding costs. Should my cow deliver a bull, we can sell it or raise two calves that year, and I guess it isn't totally horrible to breed son to mother, but I wouldn't want to breed son to mother, then use son #1s son to breed her again, I don't know enough about line-breeding to know if that's sound practice or not, but it sounds like shaky ground to me.
     
  12. Catalytic

    Catalytic Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and if you decide to band, Jeffers has two banders that work for larger animals.
     
  13. pfaubush

    pfaubush Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, all! I think I will wait until he is older and have someone out to cut them. Sounds like the best bet all around.
     
  14. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Try using the word castration in your search.
     
  15. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Make sure they have successfully done it many times. A friend helped his vet cut his bull calves, the next time decided to do his own. He lost one the first night.
     
  16. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've seen it done about every way possible, and I have to say thay pinching is the safest and least stressful. No blood, no open wounds, no infections. Down side is that it requires an expensive tool, but well worth the money if you do enough of them.

    That said, I believe that I may own the world record for the fastest castration in history (of a large calf anyway). I had a Jersey bull calf, about 5 months old. Raised on his mother so he was large for his age and feeling his oats. He took to jumping the fence. Fast as I would run him back in the gate he would go around the barn and jump the fence in the same spot. I was some annoyed. I fetched my lariat and run him in again, ran around the barn, and was there to meet him when he jumped again. Made a perfect horn catch, ran the rope through a ring on the silo, wrapped the end of the rope around his hind legs, threw him, and tied it off. I really was enraged, and I did I did this in National Finals Rodeo time. My buck was in my pocket, and razor sharp. I'm sure that from the time that the rope hit his horns to the time that his balls hit the dirt was under 60 seconds.

    After years of reflection I feel a little bad about this ( but still proud of my time) and I have never castrated in anger again.
     
  17. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Baxter Black, Cowboy Poet/Veterinarian, has a story about the Equine Practitioner. He claims the best ones can do a castration while the horse stands. He says you have to be quick. He says it is sort of like standing on a chair and sticking your head thru a ceiling fan without the blades hitting you!Your story reminded me of Baxter Black’s funny story.
     
  18. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I love Dr. Black. Been reading his stuff since the early 80s.