On Monday we cut a bunch of bulls I had purchased last winter. They were intact when I bought them, and I have been wanting to get them castrated, but either I didn’t have help, or the weather wasn’t right or something.
I like to cut with the right sign of the moon, and the Old Farmers Almanac said it was right. Old friend Bob Blackwell came over to help. Son Rial, his girlfriend Mary Kate, and wife Tammy all partook in the work(fun).
We had two younger calves still on the cows. We caught em and cut em out in the pasture. It took a while to get em caught, but we got em head and healed and stretched.
Next we put the yearling bulls in the alley around my round pen. We would sort one into roundpen and he could get next to herd mates and not be to bothered. I wanted them to be as calm as possible before castration. One of us would go in and neck the bull then we would open the gate and follow them out to clean grass pasture, get em standing and heal them, lay em down as soft as we could, then whoever didn’t have a rope on got off and let the ropers get “short” and put the neck rope on the front feet to hold while we did our work.
I like to cut on clean ground where the bulls feel comfortable when they are recovering. There were two old bucking bulls in pasture for them to go to.
If done properly you can get the bulls laid down and held with not much stress on the animal. When they are on their side the seem to give up and quit fighting and I feel the heart rate slows down and the animal quits struggling. When standing in a chute, much of the time they keep struggling even when the squeeze is on.
The other reason I like to lay them down and hold with horse and rope is safety for human. I’ve cut lots of bulls standing in a chute and no matter if you are behind or beside, they kick when you make the first cut. It is so much safer with a horse holding the legs tight.
Daughter Mesa gave me a special made custom knife with no point for the job of castrations and it sure was nice to use. I also used a emasculator that was my grandfathers.
Mary Kate watched us cut some of the bulls and then she went to it. She did a good job. Rial hadn’t rode his horse or roped in a long time and he roped good and his horse worked good.
I have not been roping very good. In Michigan at the Total Stockmanship clinic I roped poorly. I throw a pretty good scoop loop most of the time, but couldn’t get it to take. At times in my life I would have gotten real frustrated, but I was not to upset as in both places my horse was improving and when I did get one roped I got em to settle quick. The problem with missing is that it takes longer and adds stress to the critter, so missing is not a good thing, but something that is hard to fix in the moment. I need to rope more.
It was a very enjoyable day, even though it’s not a good job to have to do. Male calves should be cut young. These bulls were bulls because the fellow I bought them from didn’t get it done. He just didn’t get it done for some reason, so we had to do it. We did the best we could for them.
We had lunch and a visit then I went back and rode through them. None were bleeding and they were all bedded in the clean grass. The next morning I got em up and took them for a little walk. They were a little stiff, but walked to water, got a drink and then started grazing. I think I helped them by making them get up and move a little. They may have laid there and got hungry and thirsty and depressed. Sometimes we can use the right pressure to help get them back to being normal.
I feel knife cutting them is best as it gets it over with quickly and they start recovering. With a band it is a long lasting dull pain that really effects them. I think the danger of knife cutting keeps people from wanting to do it.
I wish I had some pain relief for them. In Canada, Boehringer Ingelheim has a injectable that they give when they process and it helps with pain mitigation for a few days. I have heard talk about it in the US, but don’t know if it is available. I think we should use it.
I, and many of you reading this understand how livestock tolerate pain differently than humans. Just like a dog can eat rotten road kill and not get sick, and a human would die from food poisoning, animals pain threshold and healing ability is much higher than humans. Pain is not good, but they can take way more than seems possible. To me fear is the worst, and as I said before, when an animal is on its side and held down, Mother Nature takes over and the animal kind of gives in and the fear goes somewhere.
I’m not saying it’s good, but it needed to be done. We tried to set it up as good as we could for the bulls, and as safe as possible for the humans and horses. I guess that’s stockmanship.
There is one reward. We save the testicles and Tammy cooked some, and froze the rest. They are very good to eat(in my opinion). She chilled them in the refrigerator, skinned and cleaned them, then slice thin and fried in olive oil with salt and pepper. So good.
I’m glad the job is done. I’m glad we did it the way did it.