Calling all goat experts, again

Clamping/Bloodless Castration

So, now that I have my kids all present and accounted for, I will need a quick but comprehensive lesson in how to bloodlessly castrate them. Until Jo at Little Ffarm Dairy suggested doing them at 7 days, I had thought I wouldn’t need to think about this for another 4 or so months; if at all! (I know, I know, try not to laugh too hard.)

Thank-you for setting me straight again Jo, my mentor, my friend. Me thinks those web-cams could come in handy right about now! I had read that you can butcher the goats at 5 months, just before they become sexually mature. Hence, I thought I’d get away with not having to castrate… So now that that illusion has been dispelled, I’ll need some more advice.

I have the loan of a Burdizzo clamp but no one who is knowledgeable or willing to help with its use. In my Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners, it says to clamp one side then the other. With the diminutive size of these little guys’ testicles, I just can’t see managing this without hurting, or even cutting the scrotal sac. I have also read about smaller Burdizzo’s being available but cannot locate one here,  on the internet, or at our feed supply store.

If you have answers to the following, I’d appreciate hearing from you (or better yet, if you happen to be in the area… )

Just how important is it that they get done this young?

Does anyone know of a supplier that will mail order the smaller 9″ Burdizzo?

Does anyone know of a site with a really good description of how to do this?

Is there any reason why I can’t clamp both sides at once on these little fellows?

Any other advice welcome.




Filed under Animal issues, Castrating goats, Goats

10 responses to “Calling all goat experts, again

  1. Hi HDR,

    I’ve sent you a detailed email on this one which answers hopefully all (& more) of your above questions.

    The reason I mentioned the “seven day rule” is that castration rings (in the UK) must by law be applied by seven days of age; hence the timescale I suggested. The castration ring method is by far the most commonly used throughout the UK; with 86.4% of farmers surveyed stating it was their preferred method.

    There is some debate over pain levels experienced by the animals & it has been indicated that overall pain levels may be slightly lessened when a Burdizzo is used in preference to a castration ring. This has been formally studied by monitoring the nociceptive barrage an animal experiences on application of the different methods; with nociceptive activity apparent for up to 1.5 hours after a rubber ring has been applied (although the animal may not exhibit any outward signs of physical distress after only a few minutes).

    However the same activity is equally observed in animals on whom a Burdizzo has been incorrectly applied; & even for longer (over 2 hours) – so it’s essential you know exactly what you’re doing, when using a Burdizzo.

    The Burdizzo should not be applied before a kid is three weeks of age; preferably four. You should not, however, postpone this method of castration for longer than this; as if your initial attemps meet with failure, by 4 months of age your little boys could impregnate your young doe – with potentially catastrophic consequences for her.

    Basically the reason you should not tackle ‘both at once’ with a Burdizzo, is that it works by crushing the spermatic cord (including the blood vessels), without the medial scrotal tissues being crushed. High pressure is applied to the cord over about a 3-5mm band; the skin should remain intact & generally recovers. It must be emphasisd that effective application requires a certain amount of skill & also an awareness of the underlying anatomy. It is not used with small kids or lambs as it is difficult to apply the clamp precisely to the spermatic cords.

    Potential problems include incomplete castration & injuries/infections associated with poorly-maintained implements. Problems are likely to be worse if the Burdizzo is applied for shorter than the recommended time; the implement is not stored, cleaned & disinfected correctly; or the wrong-sized implement is used.

    It concerns me that you have a 9″ Burdizzo, though. Although this is the smallest size of Emasculatome it is still technically designed for use on calves rather than lambs & kids; & you’ll need to check whether the head is ‘gapped’ or not. If it is ‘gapped’ I would strongly recommend you DO NOT USE IT on your little guys.

    There is another version of the tool for use on lambs & goats which is called the ‘Ritchey Nipper’ however I gather these are nigh-on impossible to obtain. Indeed, even the Burdizzo is pretty-much impossible to get in the UK; it is considered to be a veterinary implement; ergo a veterinary procedure, for which the animal should receive either local or general anaesthesia (not sure what the rules are in Canada; sorry!). Regardless, the kid should at least receive local anaesthetic if you are going to use a Burdizzo.

    Obviously my email is far more comprehensive; & directs you to lots of additionally useful information & other material which hopefully will give you amuch more informed perspective.

    Good luck!!


  2. Well, don’tcha just love the Internet? 🙂 You can learn to do anything here!

  3. Mitch

    Hi HDR

    I’m not sure if this will help. I’m no expert on goats but I do know a bit about sheep. When the lambs come
    We usually put rings or bands around the boys’ Testicles (as well as the tail of course).
    It looks like Little Ffarm has already put in a good explanation. But I thought I would help with my little knowledge.


  4. Always the spoil sport – why not regular castration? Salatin makes a good argument against banding and the resulting trauma and anaerobic conditions compared to cutting.

    I do know cutting in the correct moon makes a huge difference.

    But, this is just my two cents, I only have experience with cattle, horses and dogs.

    They are looking very sprite, and cute. With all this naming and imprinting are you going to be able to butcher when the time arrives?

    • Re: Imprinting

      Oh believe me I’m a little worried about whether or not I’ll be able to butcher when the time comes. The thing that I have going for me is that they will be 5 months old at the end of hunting season! So, I’m counting on the ‘they are just small deer’ feeling that I had last year after hunting to return. (My fall-back position is to ask my friend Dave to do it in exchange for some of the meat). But no, I’m a big girl… Suck it up Princess, right?

      Also, I’m using the imprinting for several reasons: I want to halter train them, I’d like to see if I can train them to pull a cart, and I may end up using some of them as ‘therapy goats’ when the time comes. For example, Malcolm is going to be a therapy goat. I can completely trust him not to use his horns around people, Fatty-Fat also. The others, I wouldn’t trust for some people. I trust them completely with most folks who come to the farm and want to visit the goats, but not for a therapy situation. I have never had any of them push or head-butt me, but as you know, not everyone knows how to claim space with animals.

      Re: Castration

      I’m looking into finding a Ritchey Nipper so I can do them at 3 months old (at the latest, or before). Little Ffarm has said they are la creme de la creme in terms of castration tools and rare as hens teeth to find (made specifically for sheep and goats, not just a small calf tool like the Burdizzo). But, I’m going to persevere as I have some time. Also, because I didn’t have a vet give the mothers tetanus shots while still pregnant (which all the reading I’ve done says you must do if you are to use the ring method), I’d rather wait at this stage–and not risk it–and find the castration tool. Finally, it sounds like if you are growing them for meat, it is good to let them stay in tact for as long as possible as it creates a nicer carcass (I’m presuming this is in terms of weight/muscle gain).

      Do you do the regular castration yourself? I’m presuming you mean cutting?

      • I think the imprinting is good, I do that with any animal I have to handle. Otherwise, it is too easy to get hurt, even with small animals. I just was worried about you getting too attached, but if your friend is willing to “help” that may make it go easier. You know now you could do the deed if you needed to, it doesn’t mean you have to.

        As for the cutting, sometimes we do it, and sometimes if we need some veterinary work done, we schedule it that way. The banding seems easy to some people, but the risk of having a stag, where one testicle is left, can be very dangerous, not to mention that the animal can still breed.

        Sounds like you found the right tool for the job at Premier. We have found their customer service to be excellent.

        Looking forward to watching the kids grow! The therapy idea is great!

  5. Mae

    I’d castrate the buck kids at 4 months old with a burdizzo. I castrated my first buck kid last year with a burdizzo at 4 months old. I clamped one, then the other, because it’s what I read to do. I didn’t want to go against what I read, especially since it was my first time castrating with this method, I didn’t have hands on experience prior to this, just what I read on a website ( and I watched a video on, where he castrated 3 with his friend. So I gathered a friend, had him hold the 4 month old kid, I did him and within a couple weeks, I could tell that the burdizzo worked. Mine is the 9″ that has a gapped head, and I’ve done 6 buck kids ranging from 2-8 m0nths old, and they all came out wethered kids, without having to redo them. I also like it because they don’t cry for hours after being done. What I’ve witnessed is they stop crying when you aren’t using the tool on them. They may wince a little, they are a little sore after being done but they are good by the next morning. Once they’ve slept it off. What I’ve experienced is they recover the fastest and to me it seems like the least painful of all the methods. I don’t band, because it’d be like putting a band around your finger, and that just seems so awful. I’ve seen banded buck kids, and they cry until the band cuts off all circulation, and then it sinks through the skin and then a week or so later it sloughs off. It seems like the easiest method for the owner to do though, and that is why I believe it’s widely used. But I’m on the same page as on castration.

    Because you plan on butchering the buck kids, it is a good idea to wether them just a month before butcher. You want them to grow all they can. Plus, I’ve seen buck kids, where they don’t get sexually mature until 5-8 months old. I’ve also seen buck kids, where they think they are fully capable at an hour old.. LOL! It really depends on the buck kid.

    Personally, I would separate the buck kids at 3 months, burdizzo at 4, butcher at 5.

  6. EJ

    A quick search turns up Premier1 that sells the Ritchey Nipper:

    this looks like a good place to start for goat supplies:

    • Great minds think alike–I have already placed my order! In fact, will likely do a post with a bunch of the places I’ve found for resources soon, so do send along anything else you find useful and I’ll add it to the post when I get to it.



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