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Wether or not

  1. 1. WETHER OR NOT SUSAN SCHOENIAN Sheep & Goat Specialist University of Maryland Extension sschoen@umd.edu – sheepandgoat.com
  2. 2. WHAT IS A WETHER? A castrated male sheep or goat
  3. 3. WHAT IS CASTRATION? Removal or destruction of the testicles of the male
  4. 4. WHY CASTRATE? • Prevent indiscriminate breeding • To eliminate undesirable behavior and/or odor of intact male • For ease of management • For show • Ease of shearing, crutching • Better hygiene • Improve meat quality • Market preference • Ease of processing • Tradition
  5. 5. WHY NOT CASTRATE? • Males grow faster and produce heavier, leaner carcasses. • Castration is a painful procedure that has risks associated with it. • Some producers want to see how males grow out before making selection decisions. • Some markets prefer an intact male.
  6. 6. BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR CASTRATION
  7. 7. TOOLS FOR CASTRATION Elastrator Ringer Bander Callicrate Bander™ Burdizzo (Baby) Emasculatome (clamp, crush) Band, crush, or cut! “SURGICAL” Scalpel or knife All-in-one tool Emasculator
  8. 8. METHODS OF CASTRATION ELASTRATOR BANDER • Bloodless method • Band is placed above both testicles, around the spermatic cords. • The tight band cuts off blood supply to the testicles, causing them to atrophy and fall off. • Greatest tetanus risk BURDIZZO (BABY) EMASCULATOME • Bloodless method • A clamp is used to crush both spermatic cords; one cord at a time. • Testicles shrink and disappear in a couple of months. • Requires most skill. SURGICAL (KNIFE, SCALPEL) • Cut lower one-third of scrotum off, remove testicles, and allow wound to drain and heal naturally. • Can use all-in-one tool to cut scrotum and pull testicles out. • Risk of bleeding, infection, and fly strike. Band, crush, or cut! EMASCULATOR • Use to cut and crush cords.
  9. 9. AGE TO CASTRATE • Generally, as early as possible, but not too early (< 24 hours) as to interfere with colostrum intake and bonding. • Ideally, 1-10 days of age, especially if banding (with elastrator). • Can do later if clamping (w/Burdizzo) • Should perform all methods before 12 weeks of age. • Callicrate Bander™ has been advocated for delayed castration.
  10. 10. WILL EARLY CASTRATION PREDISPOSE LAMBS/KIDS TO URINARY CALCULI? • Urinary calculi, commonly called “water belly” (or kidney stones) is a urinary tract blockage in ruminants. • Urinary calculi is almost always the result of improper feeding, caused primarily by feeding too much phosphorus (compared to calcium) in the diet (ratio Ca:P should be >2.1). • Urinary calculi is caused mostly by high grain-low roughage diets. • Inadequate water consumption is another causative factor. • Ammonium chloride can be added to the feed as a preventative.
  11. 11. CASTRATING OLDER ANIMALS • Early-castrated males are at greater risk for urinary calculi because their urethras do not develop as fully as intact males. • It may be advisable to castrate later, if males will be kept or sold as pets. • The Burdizzo is preferred for older lambs/kids. • The Callicrate Bander™ has been advocated for delayed castration. • It is best not to castrate mature males.
  12. 12. ANIMAL WELFARE CONSIDERATIONS • Surgical castration is the most painful method of castration. • Clamping is less painful than banding. • Clamping + banding may be the most humane method of castration. • High tension bands (using Callicrate Bander™) may be a more humane method of banding, especially older lambs/kids. • Banding larger scrotums may cause more inflammation. • Local anesthetics (e.g. lidocaine) and NSAIDs can reduce pain (Rx). • Animals older than 3 months of age should be castrated by a veterinarian. • Regardless of method, protection from tetanus is recommended.
  13. 13. AN ALTERNATIVE TO CASTRATION SHORT-SCROTUM “CASTRATION” • What is it? Removal of scrotum with band ,while leaving both testicles close to or in the inguinal canal (as in a cryptorchid). • Why do it? Removal of scrotum prevents thermoregulation of the testicles less than body temperature, thus rendering the process of spermatogenesis ineffective (i.e. sterility). • Yet Testosterone secretion from testicles allows superior growth and carcass composition of male. • And Short-scrotum castration is a less painful procedure; therefore improved animal welfare is improved.
  14. 14. INTACT MALE NO CASTRATION WETHER CASTRATION SHORT SCROTUM CASTRATION Elastrator band
  15. 15. COMPARISON INTACT MALE • Superior growth • Heavier carcass • Leaner carcass • Breeding risk • Undesirable behavior/odor • Processing issues WETHER • No (low) breeding risk • Ease of management • Meat quality (?) • Slower growth • Lighter carcass • Fatter carcass • Painful procedure (welfare) SHORT SCROTUM
  16. 16. 2018 COMPARISON STUDY OF INTACT, WETHER, AND SHORT-SCROTUM RAMS • University of Maryland’sWestern Maryland Research & Education Center (WMREC) in Keedysville. • 60 lambs from a Maryland farm Averaged 57 lbs. and 81 days of age 19 intact, 25 wether, 17 short-scrotum • 110 days: April 26-August 13 • Pastured-raised Cool and warm season grasses Annual and perennial grasses Supplemental feeding (2x day) East Freisian x Lacaune (dairy) Schoenian, S., Semler, J., Gordon, D., Bennett, M., Wildeus, S., O’Brien, D.,Travis, A., and C. Anderson
  17. 17. RESEARCH PROTOCOL • Lambs were weighed bi-weekly to determine body weights and deworming need. • Towards end of project, lambs were scanned to determine ultrasound rib eye measurements. • Towards end of project, lambs were evaluated to determine reproductive characteristics. • All lambs were slaughtered to collect carcass data and specimens (testicles). No lambs required deworming in 2018.
  18. 18. SHORT-SCROTUM RAMS GREW FASTER THAN WETHER LAMBS Almost 14% increase in ADG compared to wethers
  19. 19. SHORT-SCROTUM RAMS WERE THE HEAVIEST AT THE END OF THE STUDY An increase in value of $16.06 per lamb (7.3 lbs. x $2.20/lb.)
  20. 20. SHORT SCROTUM LAMBS PRODUCED LEANER CARCASSES
  21. 21. EVALUATING REPRODUCTIVE TRAITS • A blood sample was collected from each lamb (to look at testosterone levels [results pending]). • At slaughter, testicle pairs were collected from five intact ram lambs and five short-scrotum lambs. • Towards end of study, each lamb was put in a pen with two ewes (in estrus/heat) to evaluate libido (reproductive behavior). • Semen was collected from five ram lambs and five short-scrotum lambs.
  22. 22. SHORT- SCROTUM RAMS HAD SIGNIFICANTLY SMALLER TESTICLES
  23. 23. SHORT- SCROTUM RAMS HAD SIMILAR SEXUAL BEHAVIOR (LIBIDO) AS RAM LAMBS
  24. 24. SHORT-SCROTUM RAMS WERE STERILE. INTACT RAM LAMBS SHORT-SCROTUM RAMS
  25. 25. CONCLUSIONS • Results were similar to other studies in which short-scrotum lambs grew faster than wether lambs and produced leaner carcasses. • Results were similar to other studies in which short-scrotum lambs had smaller testicles, but displayed similar sexual behavior as ram lambs. • While some studies have found low fertility in short-scrotum lambs, our study determined the short-scrotum rams to be infertile.
  26. 26. DISCUSSION • Short-scrotum castration may be a viable alternative for some sheep (and goat) producers. • It is a means of preserving the superior growth and carcass composition of the intact male, while minimizing many of the negative aspects of males. • Performing the short-scrotum castration procedure at an early age may increase the probability of sterility (short scrotum rams would make suitable “teasers”) • Male behavior, characteristic to even short-scrotum males, may be minimized in a free range environment. • The study will be repeated in 2019 to see if the results are repeatable.
  27. 27. WETHER OR NOT RAM • Early-born • Winter-born • Early weaned • Creep fed • Pen-raised • Marketed at young age • Market preference • Can separate on farm WETHER • Late-born • Spring-born • Pasture-raised • Late weaned • Marketed at older age • Market preference • Can’t separate on farm (or don’t want to) SHORT-SCROTUM • Gain benefits of ram lambs, without some of the management hassles.
  28. 28. SMALL RUMINANTS @ WMREC • Lambs from the research project were sold to University of Maryland Dining Services in 2018.The meat was served to students and faculty in the dining halls and featured at the university’s fall Harvest Festival, which highlighted local, sustainable food.The university has committed to buying the 2019 lambs. • The project includes two youth programs: 4-H Small Ruminant ResearchAcademy and 4-H Entrepreneurship Program (pelt project; first year). • The research program will be featured at theTwilightTour & Tasting to be heldWednesday, June 19, 2019, at the WashingtonCounty Agricultural Education Center. • To learn more, visit the blog @ https://wmrecrearch.blogspot.com
  29. 29. Thank you for your attention. Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MDSmallRuminant

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