Castration of sheep: why it is necessary to do, at what age, methods and description
Castration of sheep in large farms is one of the mandatory procedures - of course, if only good indicators of meat productivity of animals are needed. What exactly is worth knowing about castration methods and the rules for its implementation - read on.
Castration of rams
Studying the question of castration of sheep should start with an answer to several important questions: why is this procedure needed (maybe it will be superfluous in your case), at what age it is best to castrate animals and what structural features of their reproductive system should be taken into account. In addition, it is worth considering various ways to accomplish the task, choosing the most optimal option for yourself.
Why you need to castrate rams: indications and contraindications
Castration is called surgery to stop the functions of the genital glands of an animal, in this case a ram. Most often, they resort to such an operation to improve the feeding process of young animals, reduce the aggressiveness of males and their overall activity. In addition, the resulting meat products lose their unpleasant odor, which in some cases is considered a very weighty argument in favor of castration.
No matter how the person intervenes in the natural reproductive processes in the body of the animal (blood or bloodless), as a result he gets a ram-valuha, unsuitable for further breeding.
Did you know? Sheep have excellent memory and remember their shepherd well. After mixing several flocks (for example, at a watering hole), each animal unmistakably searches for its “own” person and follows it.
The age at which you need to perform castration
The optimal age of a ram for castration depends on the chosen method of performing the procedure. So, surgical operations are best performed when the animals reach 2 or 4 weeks, since at a later date the testes become much larger and it is more difficult to work with them. In addition, the active development of the connective membrane, which complicates the process of clamping the seminal arteries, also becomes a problem.
Without a cut of the vaginal layer, animals are usually castrated at the age of 2 to 6 months, and partial castration (the rarest species) is used for young individuals of 2 or 3 months of age
The structure of the reproductive system of a ram
Without knowledge of the anatomy of sheep, one should not consider the possibility of castration of sheep independently, since there is a high probability of serious damage to animal organs and their further rapid death.
The males are characterized by oval testes, which in lambs have a more elongated shape, and with age acquire the outlines of an almost perfect circle. From 2 to 5 months of life, their size is no more than the size of a chicken egg, and the body of the testis is formed by connective and parenchymal tissue layers. A special characteristic of sheep is a weak expression of the stroma, with a clearly visible parenchymal part, which makes the testes not so dense.
Did you know? The sheep have a minimum life span (no more than 6 years), but long-lived sheep among these animals are snow sheep, whose age at home breeding can reach 24 years.
Seed appendages is a network of convoluted vas deferens forming a dense area. Its nutrition is largely due to the vas deferens, separated from the umbilical zone. The scrotum is presented in the form of a large skin sac with the sex glands of the animal inside. A species feature of these organs is the low location of the testes and the formation of the cervical zone of the scrotum.
The genitals of a ram: 1. The onion glands, 1-3 cm in size, oval; 2. Retractor muscle (retractor); 3. S-shaped bend of the urogenital canal; 4. Scrotum; 5. Testis with an appendage: the testis is ellipsoidal, the size in adult males is 10-11 cm long, 6 cm thick, 250-300 g weight. The testis appendage is adjacent to the posterior edge of the testis. The head is located on the upper part of the testis, the body is on the back, and the tail is on the lower part of the testis; 6. Preputius 7. Penis with a urogenital canal, which reaches a length of 3-4 cm and plays a role in sperm spraying. The total length of the penis during an erection reaches 0.5 m; 8. The spermatic cord; 9. Sperm pipeline; 10. The kidney; 11. The ureter; 12. The rectum; 13. Bladder
The skin of the genital organs and its layers in young rams are relatively thin and densely covered with short hairs. Fat and sweat glands, separated by a middle suture, pass through the thickness of the skin. The muscle layer is represented by a strong membrane connected to the skin and forming separate sections for each testis. In old sheep, this part contains a well-developed subcutaneous layer of fat.
The common vaginal membrane is the layer that was formed by the protrusion of the inner part of the abdominal wall when the testis was lowered. In contrast, a special vaginal membrane passes along the surface of the genital glands along with the appendage.
In different cases, various methods of performing the procedure are suitable for castration of sheep, of which many farmers prefer bloodless options. Firstly, they are much easier on the technical side, and secondly, the duration of the rehabilitation of animals will be shorter, and the farmer does not need much effort.
The main varieties of bloodless castration are elastation (involves the presence of rubber rings), the process of destruction of the spermatic cord or testis parenchyma. In each case, there are peculiarities and rules for completing the task, which are definitely worth exploring before starting practical actions.
Elastation is deservedly considered one of the simplest and most well-known ways to limit the reproductive function of sheep. It consists in applying special rubber rings to the neck of the scrotum, using forceps. Both an experienced farmer and a beginner sheep breeder can easily cope with this task, but it is best to castrate young lambs up to 4 weeks of age (later on, the testes grow in size and it becomes problematic to use rings).
The sequence of actions during elastation will be as follows:
- First you need to fix the lamb in the most convenient position for itself.
- Then put the elastic of the ring on the branches of the forceps and stretch it to a diameter sufficient to pass the testes through it.
- Pass the scrotum through the elastator ring and remove it on the neck of the scrotum, leaving it in this position for about 2 weeks.
This time will be enough for complete atrophy and dying of the reproductive glands of the lamb.
Destruction of the spermatic cord
This option of castration is a more difficult task, involving the use of several different varieties of forceps (depending on the age of the castrated animal). In the first days after such an intervention, a slight swelling of the scrotum of the sheep is possible, but the general behavior and condition of the animal does not change. The castration process in this case consists of the following sequential actions:
- Fixing a lamb in a comfortable position (usually laid on its back).
- Palpation of the testis with the definition of the spermatic cord (it is more convenient to perform with the left hand).
- The removal of the appendage to the side wall and the application of forceps closer to the testis.
- A sharp compression of the levers of the forceps until a characteristic crunch appears. If you have not heard it, it means that it is worth re-applying the sponges 1–1.5 cm and holding the forceps in the clamped state for another 5–7 seconds.
- Repeat procedure for the second testicle.
If all actions were performed correctly, then complete atrophy of the genital organs of the lamb will occur within 5-7 months, and it will be unable to fertilize the sheep
Destruction of the testis parenchyma
This method takes into account the biological characteristics of the reproductive system of the ram and its organism as a whole, but, despite this, it is rarely used in practice. In this case, the jaw-shaped forceps, resembling a spoon in shape, serve as the main tool for carrying out manipulations: the body of the testis rests on one part of the tool, and the second one captures and destroys the parenchyma. The most suitable sponge size is selected taking into account the age of the ram and the size of its sex gland.
From a technical point of view, all actions should be performed in the following order:
- The animal is fixed in a lateral position on a pre-prepared site.
- His testis is placed in the concave part of the forceps and pressed with another sponge.
- The lower handle rests on the ground, and then, with a sharp movement on another lever, the genital gland is destroyed (a characteristic crunch should appear).
- Similar actions are performed with another testis, after which it is worth assessing the extent of damage: the membranes must be torn, and loose tissue - fill the testis.
Important! If as a result of the performed manipulations in the testes seals are noticeable, they must be crushed again by repeated pressing of the forceps.
Usually, no side effects from such a procedure are observed and the integrity of the skin is not violated. Sheep are quickly restored and do not require any special care during the rehabilitation period. At the same time, cases of regeneration of the testis were recorded, which was the reason for the distrust of the method and its rare use.
Bloody methods of castration of sheep require farmer more knowledge than the previous group. This is due to the need for violation of the skin and the possible infection of the body, therefore, to prevent undesirable consequences, it is worth using antiseptic drugs and use only sterile instruments.
Distinguish between indoor and outdoor methods of performing castration.
This option can be used for castration of sheep of any age, but usually these are animals aged 2-6 months. Of the tools, a scalpel, scissors, iodine tincture, tongs (Telyatnikova and Zanda), as well as a disinfectant powder (like streptocide or penicillin) are useful.
Important! Operations of this kind are desirable to perform in the cold season, when there are no flies and other insects capable of transmitting various infections. In addition, wound healing at this time will not be complicated by constant skin warming due to heat.
Instructions for performing castration by a closed method:
- Lock the animal in a comfortable position.
- Inject an injection of 0.5% novocaine, 5-10 ml into each testis.
- Remove hair from scrotum skin.
- Treat the surgical field with prepared iodine.
- Pull the skin of the scrotum down, with the simultaneous removal of the testis up.
- Cut off the top of the scrotum with sharp scissors.
- To remove the skin to the inguinal rings, with the extraction of the testes in the vaginal membrane.
- Clamp the spermatic cord and blood vessels with forceps sponges.
- Cut off the testes with a scalpel 1 cm below the clamp.
- Lay the antiseptic in the surgical wound.
Over the next few days after the procedure, the lambs and raised bull-calves should be kept separately and only in a clean shed, constantly monitoring the condition of the wound.
Open operations are performed by transverse incisions in the lower part of the scrotum or by cutting off its bottom. With a low prolapse of the scrotum and sclerosis of the skin during castration of sheep, it is better not to make longitudinal sections, since in this case there will be a high probability of accumulation of blood clots in the cavity and the further development of infectious processes.
The open castration procedure is as follows:
- Any selected anesthesia must be drawn into a syringe and injected in several places on the surgical field (for older animals, the recommended dosage should be increased).
- Then cut the skin in several zones and extract testicles through the holes obtained, which later need to be ligated or clamped with forceps on the spermatic cord.
- At the end of the operation, fill the wound surface with an antiseptic, and then keep the sheep in a clean paddock.
With a large area of the formed wound, it is worth inserting into the cavity a small piece of gauze, pre-saturated with iodoform or an antibiotic.
Cuts of the scrotum during castration of bulls, rams and goats: 1 - two cuts parallel to the suture of the scrotum; 2 - incision perpendicular to the scrotum suture; 3 - amputation of the bottom of the scrotum
Features of castration of old sheep
Castration of sheep is carried out not only in the case of lambs or young individuals, but also before culling the old stock before slaughter. In this case, the main goal of the procedure will be to reduce the sex drive of the animal and eliminate the unpleasant garlic smell of meat (appears as a result of the secretion of sex hormones).
Unlike young animals, the scrotum of mature males is overdeveloped, which directly affects the process of castration.
Mandatory working conditions in this case will be:
- Hair removal from the scrotum.
- Injection of novocaine (10-15 ml of a 2% solution).
- Fixation of the male by carefully pulling the pelvic limb to the head.
- Placing a doctor from the back of the animal.
- Circular dissection of the skin of the scrotum, up to the vagina.
- Pulling the spermatic cord from the abdominal cavity and its further fixation with forceps.
- Cutting off the testes, along with the scrotum and part of the cord (always below the clamped jaws of the instrument).
At the end of the procedure, compressed forceps should be left for 2-3 minutes, and then sprinkle the wound with an antiseptic and release the ram. To speed up the regenerative processes, it is necessary to put a purse string suture on the wound hole or to bring the edges of the cult together with a few simple sutures. In the next 20-30 days, it is desirable to keep the sheep in a separate pen, regularly inspecting and treating the wound with antiseptic agents.
Incomplete castration of sheep is least often used in farmers' practice, which is explained by extremely dubious performance and a heavy burden on the surgeon. In addition, this option will be appropriate only for young lambs 2-3 months old.
The main stages of incomplete castration largely coincide with the sequence of actions when using other possible process options:
- The ram is fixed in the standard way, when the assistant holds the animal by its hind limbs, while pressing it to the table with the sacral spine.
- As soon as it is immobilized, its scrotum is cleaned of the hairline, carefully treated with iodine or alcohol, and then pulling the skin, move the testis to the surgical field.
- In this position, the skin is punctured with a ventral scalpel, and at one time you need to cut all the layers and insert the blade into the testis, deepening it by about 1 cm (the exact values depend on the size of the gland).
Video: Partial castration of a ram
By turning the scalpel, it is possible to achieve destruction of the tissues of the penis, and after removing the instrument, it remains only to carefully remove the parenchyma by pressing the fingers. Unfortunately, it is far from always possible to completely extract it, which means that the remaining part of the testis is able to regenerate and contribute to the restoration of the sexual function of the ram.
Complications after castration
Observing all the rules of castration, with great confidence we can talk about the absence of any side effects from this procedure.
But in order to increase the chances of a successful outcome, it is important to follow a few simple rules:
- It is advisable to keep postoperative individuals only in previously prepared clean pens with minimal humidity.
- Until complete healing of the wound surface and atrophy of the testicles, the rams should be examined daily and, if necessary, the surgical site should be additionally treated with antiseptic compounds (if clots of pus or bloody discharge appear, in addition to surface exposure, an antibiotic treatment course will be necessary).
- The diet of sheep or sheep in the postoperative period should be developed taking into account the recommendations of the veterinarian.
Violation of these recommendations and other adverse environmental factors can complicate the condition of the lambs, especially when it comes to open surgery.
The list of the most common problems should include:
- Prolapse of the vaginal membrane, spermatic cord or intestinal loop (with timely elimination of the problem, it will not affect the successful outcome of events).
- Bleeding due to slipping of the ligature from the spermatic cord (re-suturing is sometimes required).
- The development of inflammatory processes with increasing body temperature.
- The accumulation of coagulated blood and its infection by bacteria, which without proper treatment can result in gangrene scrotum, the development of peritonitis and general infection of the blood with a further fatal outcome.
To minimize the likelihood of any of these violations, always monitor the sterility of the instruments during the operation, as well as the further cleanliness of the contents of the operated animals. With the slightest doubt in your abilities and the appropriateness of independently castrating sheep, you should not risk their health and life, it is better to entrust the matter to professionals.