Saturday, April 9, 2011

Castrating lambs

I figured that since my arm was better, the weather was good, the ground was dry, and the sheep were still penned up, today would be a good day to castrate the lambs.  We had five lambs.  I knew that two were girls, two were boys, and one I didn't know what it was.  That one was born right before I had my surgery on my arm so its sex was unknown. 

There are several different ways to wether a lamb or a goat.  You can cut them, smash them or use a band.  People are usually very set in which of the three methods they think is the most humane and least humane.  I couldn't cut them because if I made a mistake the animal could bleed to death.  I wouldn't want to use the emasculatome, which crushes the cord.  This is painful and you have to do it twice on each animal.  It's suggested that you give them pain medication.  The animal also will scream when you use this method (wouldn't you?).  I use the banding method, which uses a tool called an elastrator.  The heavy duty little rubber bands come in a pack of 100 for only a few dollars.  You use the tool to place the band at the top of the sack.  After a couple of weeks it falls off.  I've never had the lambs acting fussy with this method although there are many websites which say this is the least humane method because it drags on rather than doing the deed instantly.

I asked son-in-law if he wanted to help.  He politely declined stating that he couldn't do "that" to another male, even if it was a lamb.  And he doesn't even like eating lamb.  Then I asked my renters of the bug-out place.  He said sure, he's never done "that" before so he may as well learn something.  We were able to trap two of the lambs into the small pen, which is about 10x10.  I caught the first one and somehow the second one escaped back into the herd.  Fortunately this one I caught was a boy.  We got him banded and then marked his forehead with a marker so we'd easily spot which one was banded. 

Trapping the others wasn't as easy but had us laughing.  I cornered a couple and as I was bending down to try to catch one they both jumped right over my head and past me.  Renter tried to corner some but instead sent them back to my direction.  While it would have been easier to coax them into the small pen, we were having a good time.  I trapped one into a corner and it too tried to jump over me.  Instead it got tangled in my hair then jumped off to the side.  It tried to go through the fence panel but couldn't so I was able to pick it up.  Success! It was a boy.  Just as I was grabbing this one the renter caught his as well.  He wanted to bring it into the small pen before he even checked if it was male or female.  Success again.  Another male.  We got these two banded and let them go back to their mothers.  We didn't mark their foreheads since we were three for three.  We didn't need to go back out and chase down the other two lambs. 

Our sheep total comes to two rams, five ewes, two female lambs and three wethered lambs.  We may sell both female lambs and possibly one of the wethered lambs.  The other wethers will end up in the freezer. 


  1. I vividly remember the first time I watched this spring ritual in a high school ag class. A certain squeemish feeling fell over the males in the class.

    Now, no big deal. If you want to eat meat, you make eunuchs.

  2. I've never really thought about all that goes into meat production on small farms. Every pet we have is a part of the family. We couldn't eat any of them. I'm glad we get our stuff from the butcher where it's an anonymous animal.