Location: Rangeland and Pasture ResearchTitle: Effect of method and timing of castration on newly arrived stocker cattle) Author
Submitted to: Professional Animal Scientist
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/3/2014
Publication Date: 7/1/2014
Citation: Ratcliff, M.D., Kegley, E.B., Powell, J.G., Hawley, J., Lusby, K.S., Rowe, M.P., Gunter, S.A., Daniels, L.B., Hubbell, D.S. 2014. Effect of method and timing of castration on newly arrived stocker cattle. Professional Animal Scientist. 30:457-465. Interpretive Summary: It is economically beneficial to the owner if new cattle purchased for growing on pastures are managed in a way that reduces health issues. Cattle that have been treated for bovine respiratory disease more than two times have been shown to yield inferior carcasses and return less to the cattle feeding enterprise. One issue facing the management of these cattle is the optimal time to castrate. Some managers argue that the best time for this process is immediately after arrival, while others contend that it is better to castrate after the cattle have started eating again. Three truck loads (271 calves) of male calves were purchased from regional sale barns and delivered to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Stocker Cattle Research Unit in Fayetteville. After arrival they were divided in to steers (87 calves) and bulls (184 calves). Bulls were castrated on day 0 or 14. Half of each of these 2 groups were then either surgically castrated or castrated by a bander. Method of castration did not affect performance or sickness of the cattle. However, bulls castrated at arrival had the greatest average daily gain (1.34 lb) with calves surgically castrated on day 14 gaining the least (1.21 lb). Steers tended to have greater total average daily gain (1.79 lb) when compared to castrated bulls (1.28 lb). This study indicates that method and timing of castration would impact growth performance, but would not impact the health of newly arrived stocker cattle. However, if calves are castrated before marketing and arrival at the farm, average daily gain and morbidity are enhanced.
Technical Abstract: An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of castration method and timing on the performance and health of newly received stocker cattle. Two hundred and seventy-one crossbred male calves (184 bulls, 87 steers; 210 ± 14.7 kg) were purchased at auction barns and shipped in three groups. Upon arrival, calves were weighed, individually identified, and within arrival groups, were randomly assigned to one of eight pens. Within pens, calves were assigned to one of five treatment groups consisting of: 1) calves that arrived as steers, calves that arrived as bulls and were castrated surgically on 2) day 0 or 3) day 14, or calves that arrived as bulls and were castrated utilizing a bander on 4) day 0 or 5) day 14. The following day, calves were processed and designated bull calves castrated according to treatment. On day 14, remaining bull calves were castrated according to treatment. There was a method × castration day interaction (P < 0.01) for average daily gain. Calves surgically castrated on day 0 had the greatest average daily gain (0.66 kg/d) with calves surgically castrated on day 14 gaining the least (0.50 kg/d) (P = 0.09). Steers tended (P = 0.06) to have greater total average daily gain over the course of the study when compared to calves that arrived as bulls. This study indicated that method and timing of castration would impact growth performance, but would not impact morbidity of newly arrived stocker-cattle. However, if calves are castrated before marketing and arrive as steers, average daily gain and morbidity would be enhanced.