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Saw this story today (you folks in Wyoming are whacky! ;-) ) But it got me to thinking, do folks with big operations band ram lambs or do they usually just castrate them (preferably with a knife!) or an emasculator (other than their teeth!)

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2072103/Shepherds-bit-lambs-testicles-special-farming-event-hit-violent-food-poisoning-bug.html

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That's the way it often used to be done in the UK as well as Australia. Apparently it's easy to get a grip and crushes the tissue at the same time, to reduce bleeding. If anyone has read Great Australian Working Dog Stories (good book, btw), there's at least one story there that mentions castrating with teeth (one of Geoff Blight's stories from his contracting days).

 

Can´t say I feel for them.
Reckon they got what they deserved, the dolts.

Why is that? You think it makes a difference to the lambs? They get their nuts cut off either way, and I'm told castrating using teeth is quick and reduces bleeding. I can't imagine contractors who castrate thousands of lambs a day would do it otherwise. Obviously it has its downsides, but I'm not sure why they "deserved" what they got.

 

ETA: in answer to this:

do folks with big operations band ram lambs

Everyone I know bands ram lambs, and we use a gas knife on the tails.

 

ETAgain to say I just googled quickly, and found this, which says in part:

The end of each testicle is then grasped with fingers or teeth and pulled away from the lamb or kid with gentle pressure. The hand not holding the testicle can be used to help strip the tissues surrounding the testicle back towards the animal’s body. Once the testicle is freed, gentle pulling force can be used to completely remove the rest of the cord from the body. Some testicles may require some "blunt" dissection before they can be removed. The back side of the knife’s blade is used to place pressure on the cord and "peel" away any remaining tissues, while pulling force weakens and eventually ruptures the cord. A knife should never be used to cut the cord directly. This will result in excessive bleeding. It is much better to rupture or tear the cord, instead of cutting it with a knife...

When grasping the testicles with the teeth, a tight grip should be taken about 3/8 to 1/2 inch above the end of the testicle. If gripped too close to the tip, the outer tissues (tunica) may only be pulled and a second attempt will have to be made to get the testicles. In very young animals, speed can be attained by pulling both testicles at once. Some producers prefer to pull one at a time, which is perhaps easier on the lamb or kid. There is much less danger of infection when the teeth are used instead of dirty fingers to grasp the testicles. Further, when this method is performed by experienced persons, it can be very fast.

 

Off-topic, but the article had me hair-tearing just for its repeated references to campylobacter as a virus.

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Oh, I am not gonna open that particular can of worms again... You know what they say, once bitten twice shy :rolleyes:

Bye.

Which can of worms? I must have missed that one.

 

I wonder what sort of 'event' it was, and why they were castrating instead of banding? Just rereading the article, apparently 12 people took several days to mark just 1600 lambs, so you'd have to think they'd have been better off banding from an efficiency perspective.

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OK if they got a disease from castrating with their teeth what makes you think they couldn't get it from a cut on their hands just as easily?

 

The gentle pulling method works quite well (I havent' used teeth, knowing I'd get kicked in the face!) but I have pulled the testicles out and I prefer that method.

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Because for some diseases, mode of transmission actually plays a role. The folks who got sick did so as the result of infection with something that causes GI disease and the mode of transmission is oral.

 

The whole point of pulling is that it stretches and tears the blood vessels (much like a ewe does with the umbilical cord), which does reduce bleeding.

 

If you do the same thing with your hands and then put your hands in your mouth without washing them, you'd probably be just as susceptible to the particular infection the workers got, but not likely to get a stomach bug through cuts on your hands.

 

J.

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Terrierman turned me on to this video, where the guy in the video who bites off the lab's testicles for a TV show talks about the experience, and how it (and other things) changed his mind about the nature of "dirty jobs." (Not the TV show by that name, but the actual jobs."

 

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Stupid is as stupid does. I do some weird things too on the farm-whistling with my fingers comes to mind but you have to draw the line somewhere. I could see castrating like that years & years ago, but really the equipment is cheap & easy to use whether you band or use an emasculator.

Laura

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A lot of the old timers did it that way, not that we ever would. They would grab them by their teeth and pull them out and twist their tails off. There was a lot less blood(from the tails)that way. The managers who were here before us did it that way. We cut the bottom of the sacs and pull them out. Then the tails are done with a tool called a double crush tail docker, that puts crimping pressure on the cut tail which limits the bleeding. All of that is tarred to keep flies and infection out. Banding is nice for winter lambing when you do not have to worry about the flies. Most of the big ranchers out here range lamb and are lambing and "docking" in summer.

 

Docking, even with a large crew, does take a while. We will dock at least 1600 head and we do it over 3-4 days. You gather a group the night before, bring them in the corrals in the morning, dock and have lunch. Then a lot of your help goes home and you gather more sheep for the next day, plus let out the other group that was done after the lambs are moving better. You dock in smaller groups so that the lambs will mother back up with the ewes. They are running on thousands of acres and need to be with their mothers before heading back out. If you dock in too large of a group you will bum a bunch of lambs

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Stupid is as stupid does. I do some weird things too on the farm-whistling with my fingers comes to mind

Yeah, I must have ingested a fair amount of sheep poo without even trying. I don't seem to be able to go in even slightly muddy yards without ending up with muck across my face. Both my kids have munched on a few pellets too. Hopefully building immunity to something...

 

Docking, even with a large crew, does take a while. We will dock at least 1600 head and we do it over 3-4 days. You gather a group the night before, bring them in the corrals in the morning, dock and have lunch. Then a lot of your help goes home and you gather more sheep for the next day, plus let out the other group that was done after the lambs are moving better. You dock in smaller groups so that the lambs will mother back up with the ewes. They are running on thousands of acres and need to be with their mothers before heading back out. If you dock in too large of a group you will bum a bunch of lambs

I'm sure it depends on the circumstances- maybe ages of lambs, breeds of sheep- but we'd mark 800- 1000 lambs a day with 4 people on a mulesing cradle, someone else pushing up. Good professional teams are probably much faster. Most people here do band nuts, rather than surgically castrate, but then mulesing takes a while too. Merinos are notoriously bad mums, but then our paddocks are generally smaller (hundreds of acres), so that evens out.

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Posted by mjk05 (I'm sure it depends on the circumstances- maybe ages of lambs, breeds of sheep- but we'd mark 800- 1000 lambs a day with 4 people on a mulesing cradle, someone else pushing up. Good professional teams are probably much faster. Most people here do band nuts, rather than surgically castrate, but then mulesing takes a while too. Merinos are notoriously bad mums, but then our paddocks are generally smaller (hundreds of acres), so that evens out.) Sorry I do not seem to be able to make it say it is quoted from you.

 

 

We could do them all in a day or two if we had to, but it is more for the reasoning of letting them mother back up good so we do not have bums. We have 4 people at minimum grabbing lambs to take to the docking table. There they get castrated, docked, shots, branded and tarred. So there is at least six on the docking table. The smallest pasture they go back into is 3,000 acres so mothering back up is very important.

 

What is mulesing?? What time of the year are you docking? Are there flies? We have considered banding and then tarring really well and hoping it would stay on until they healed, but that is doubtful. There is a new bander out that is supposed to be really humane and we have considered it. We would love to have our pastures at least no more than 1,000 acres so that docking would go more smoothly but that is years down the road if ever.

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If you sell natural lambs in the US you cant use mulesing. Just google this word and note how many animal rights groups come up.

 

If you make a living from livestock in the US you worry about anything that is "perceived" as cruelty to animals. The far out animal rights groups are always a threat and it seems foolhardy for anybody in the livestock industry to show such tactics on film.

 

Yes, some old timers did it( back to the teeth and balls here), but the practice is not accepted as good animal husbandry in this day and age, and is mostly showing off for the camera.

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What is mulesing?? What time of the year are you docking? Are there flies? We have considered banding and then tarring really well and hoping it would stay on until they healed, but that is doubtful. There is a new bander out that is supposed to be really humane and we have considered it. We would love to have our pastures at least no more than 1,000 acres so that docking would go more smoothly but that is years down the road if ever.

Mulesing is removing skin from a small area of the breech of merino lambs so it heals smooth and without wool. It's done to reduce flystrike in the breech. The area done is heaps smaller than anything you'll see in animal lib videos. It has to be done by an accredited person, and there are anaesthetic/antispetic sprays to use. There's an article on it from the RSPCA which is quite balanced (they don't oppose it because at present, like for tail docking, there's no feasible alternative in many areas): RSPCA Most of our lambs are prime lamb crossbreds, so they don't need mulesing.

 

We lambmark in August, so in our winter, just before the flies usually (although some years they are quite bad then already). We have heaps of flies in general, it's one of primary causes of sheep loss here (mainly breech strike on adult sheep, although in wet years like this year we've had a lot of body strike too). You can use Trisolfen, the local anaesthetic and antiseptic, for tail docking and I would imagine knife castration, and we use insect repellent sprays for late marked lambs, which seem to work pretty well.

 

What sort of table do you use? Are the lambs in cradles? We have a rotating stand with 4 cradles, so one person catches lambs and clips them into the cradle, they get vaccinated, ear tagged and earmarked, ram lambs banded and tails docked with gas knife, so each person stays at their station, and the stand turns to switch lambs. It's easy to do 1000 a day with just 5 people, and we tend to standn the mobs for a while to mother up again.

 

It looks just like the one pictured in this article:

Lamb marking in style

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Thanks for sharing, I find it interesting how other ranchers do their sheep. Everyone has a different idea on what works best or their climate and terrain demand a different approach. I will say I am glad we do not Mulesing. Just as I am glad we are beyond doing the testicles by teeth and twisting the tails as was done on this ranch before us.

 

We just have a long flat narrow table. The handlers grab lambs and take them from person to person to be treated. Then they are released and allowed to mother back up for several hours or even a day or two before being let back out in the bigger pastures. Not knowing your sheep all I can say is ours, if we did all 1600 lambs in a day, we would have a disaster. There are usually 600-800 ewes in the smaller(3000acre) pasture and the rest of them in the larger pasture(over double that). The ewes, when let out, just take off. They do not like being around people and do not care if their babies follow or not. So we do them in groups of 300-400 and let them mother back up in the holding pastures which are around 400 acres.

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We just have a long flat narrow table. The handlers grab lambs and take them from person to person to be treated.

We couldn't do it that way, we just don't have the manpower. We don't have any employees and the kids aren't old enough to help, so with family members and the odd ring-in we'd be lucky to have 6 or 7 people total, and really have to get it done in under a week, because it's a busy time of year.

 

The ewes, when let out, just take off. They do not like being around people and do not care if their babies follow or not. So we do them in groups of 300-400 and let them mother back up in the holding pastures which are around 400 acres.

Sheesh- I thought merino ewes were bad! What breed are they? Our ewes don't like people or yards, but they'll usually look for their lambs in the large yards. We'd do ours in mobs of 500 or less ewes most of the time, and take them back out into paddocks (fields) as a mob when they're done.

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Our ewes are basically a commercial Columbia. But they are wild range ewes and they have to be. They winter over in the "breaks" and do not see anybody from Dec-April. This flock started out with Rambouillet ewes and Lincoln rams.

 

We do labor sharing out here. We help our neighbors and they help us. We try to hire some younger people so it is easier on us older folks, for lamb grabbing. We usually do two groups one day and one group for the next two days, so usually done in 3 days.

 

Yes these girls are a bit wild. We do not go out in the lambing pastures from shearing until docking. They will literally take off and leave the lambs if they see you coming, especially on a 4 wheeler. Not quite as bad if we are in a pickup. Makes it tough but we have found that we bum lambs if we try to go out and check on them, so we stay out

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