Castrating Goats and Sheep with a Burdizzo

castrating goats and sheep with Burdizzo

The first year we had goat kids I took them to the vet to be castrated surgically because I read that it was the most humane method. It was the first and last time I ever did that. The vet gave each one a shot of something that made them limp, but they were still capable of screaming weakly as he sliced open each side of the scrotum, pulled out each testicle and tossed it on the ground. He didn’t stitch up the incisions, saying that they were less likely to get infected if they were open “to drain.”

The following year I decided to try banding because a different vet told me that it wasn’t a big deal, and she even gave me her bander because she no longer raised sheep. Free versus $50 for a Burdizzo (a brand of emasculator) seemed like a no-brainer, even though I’d read that the Burdizzo was considered to be more humane. Banding didn’t seem like a big deal initially. We were not castrating that many bucklings the first year or two we used the bander.

We did notice that most of them would go hide in a corner and act depressed for a day or so. I didn’t realize it at the time because I was still new and mostly clueless, but that’s typical behavior for a prey animal that is in pain and feeling vulnerable. After castrating enough kids with a bander, however, we had some that would throw themselves on the ground screaming, roll onto their back, rub against walls or fences, screaming the whole time, and generally make me feel like a really terrible person. I had to go into the house where I couldn’t hear them.

Then in 2008, I had a couple of bucks that were too big for banding. One was the son of master champion Nigerian dwarf. By the time he was six months old, I just didn’t think he looked good enough to be a buck, even though his mother was a finished champion, so I decided to castrate him.

I also had a LaMancha buck that had developed a very bad habit of jumping fences and getting into the pasture with my Nigerian dwarf does. Because I didn’t want to wind up with a ND needing a c-section because she would not be able to birth half-LaMancha kids, I decided I needed to castrate that big boy. The vet wanted to charge me $100 to castrate him, so the cost of a Burdizzo suddenly looked like a great cost savings, especially since I had two bucks that I needed to castrate with it.

After castrating those two bucks, as well as three ram lambs, I was sold. Although the goats screamed when I pinched the cord, they stopped screaming as soon as I was done. The lambs didn’t make any noise at all when I pinched the cord. In no time, they were walking around normally. They were not depressed and hiding in a corner, and no one was throwing themselves on the ground screaming in pain as the blood flowing into the scrotum was being trapped there.

The next year after castrating several bucklings, I asked my daughter how they were doing when she came inside from the barn. She said, “Fine. Why are you asking?” When I told her I had castrated them about 15 minutes earlier, she was shocked because they were bouncing around like normal kids already. She had no idea they’d been castrated that morning.

As we were about to castrate our last bucklings of 2017, I got the idea to do a Facebook Live so that Thrifty Homesteader followers could see how a Burdizzo is used. I thought it would be educational. It was. But it also went viral (more than 25,000 views) and caused a lot of controversy.

In my 15 years of raising goats at the time of the livestream, I had never heard anyone say anything negative about using a Burdizzo, so I was really surprised at the number of negative comments. I was also surprised by a lot of the misinformation being shared in the comment section. I tried to keep up, but with more than 100 comments in the first few days (and even more as time went on), I probably missed some. So I decided to write this post to address the most common questions and objections.

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Pain management when castrating goats and sheep

By far the most common questions were those centered around the pain of a goat being castrated. First of all, there is no pain-free method of goats and sheep castration. Those who think banding kids is pain-free are terribly mistaken. Wrap a rubber band around your finger so tightly that it cuts off the blood flow and see how it feels. You’ll be pulling it off within minutes. (Yes, I tried this myself.)

Kids don’t usually scream when you put the band on because that part doesn’t hurt. It’s when the blood flow is affected that the pain starts. That’s when many go hide in a corner, and some will start screaming. But if you’ve already left the barn, you don’t hear it.

What about anesthesia? Goats do not do well with general anesthesia. Vets don’t usually use it unless it’s a matter of life and death because some goats don’t wake up. In fact, they usually don’t even use anesthesia for a c-section. We’ve had three c-sections, and one of the does would have died had she not been at the university vet hospital where she had three vets and two vet students doing everything possible to save her. It took four hours for her to wake up from the anesthesia, and all of her vitals were in the danger zone.

What about a local? Lidocaine is a prescription drug, and I don’t know of any vets willing to give a bottle of it to a goat owner, although there are probably some that do. However, an injection of lidocaine burns! I’m sure kids would scream just as much from a shot of lidocaine in each side of their scrotum as they do for the pinch of the Burdizzo. At our local hospital, they automatically offer everyone a local when inserting an IV. I’ve said no because I didn’t see the point of getting a burning injection just so I didn’t feel a needle prick.

However, I was with a friend at another hospital when she needed an IV, and she was very fearful. I asked the nurse if they could give her a local, and the nurse said they didn’t do that there because they didn’t want to deal with the possibility of an allergic reaction. So, even with humans, the idea of using a local for a quick procedure is controversial and not without risks. If I’m going to have a dentist drilling in my mouth for ten minutes, I’ll take the shot, but for something that lasts literally five seconds, which is how long you pinch the cord, I really don’t see the point.

Some people commented that sheep and goat castration should be done by a vet. I’m assuming those were people who are not raising livestock. It would not be less painful if a vet did it. Some vets use a Burdizzo for castration, and they may or may not give anything for pain, depending upon their philosophy — kind of like whether or not a nurse will give a human a local before inserting an IV needle. Some vets do not even give anything for pain when castrating sheep and goats surgically. In fact, Goat Medicine, a veterinary text, says that kids under a month of age are often castrated surgically without anesthesia.

Risk of infection following sheep and goat castration

When kids and lambs are banded, there is a risk of tetanus because it’s an anaerobic condition, which is where tetanus thrives. The band also creates a nice little crevice where soil can get wedged, and soil is where tetanus lives.

When I first started banding, I knew a woman who warned me about tetanus. Her brother had quit banding and switched to the Burdizzo because he’d lost too many lambs to tetanus from banding. I was always worried about this for the six years that we were banding kids and lambs, but luckily we didn’t lose any. Since the Burdizzo does not break the skin and is bloodless, there is no risk of tetanus. There is also a risk of fly strike (maggots) when bucks are castrated surgically or banded.

Age at castration for goats and sheep

Several people commented on the video that the kid was too old to be castrated, and that kids should be castrated as young as possible. This is not true for goats or sheep. When castrating pigs, they have to be done surgically, and it’s true that it’s easier on them if done within the first week. Many people also do calves within the first week simply because they’re smaller and easier to handle.

However, goats and sheep have very narrow urethra, which make urinary stones particularly deadly for them. A stone the size of a grain of sand can kill them because it’s impossible to pass. So, sheep and goat breeders wait until at least two months to castrate because it gives the urinary tract more time to mature. This is especially important for kids that will be pets or weed eaters, as well as fiber wethers because those animals will hopefully live long lives.

If you are raising sheep or goats for meat and will be butchering them in a few months, it’s not as much of a concern because they are going to have a very short life. However, we rarely wether our sheep now because we realized they grow faster if they are intact. We’d rather leave them intact and send them to the locker at six to eight months than castrate them and feed them hay over the winter, then send them to the locker the next year and wind up with the same amount of meat as we’d have had if we left them intact and butchered them a year earlier.

Success when using a Burdizzo to castrate goats and sheep

Scrotum of a yearling goat that was castrated at 2 months
Scrotum of a yearling goat that was castrated at 2 months

When I started using the Burdizzo in 2008, the only complaint I had ever heard was that you didn’t immediately know if it was a success. Because you are crushing the cord, it doesn’t look any different after you’ve done it. There’s no band. Unlike surgical castration, the testicles are still in the scrotum.

Once the cord is crushed, blood can no longer flow to the testicles, so they shrivel up and disappear. But it will be a few months before you can’t feel anything in the scrotum. When castrating sexually mature animals, the testicles will shrink, but may not disappear entirely.

Last week I was estimating that we’d castrated about 150 bucklings with a Burdizzo in the last 9 years and about 100 with a bander before that, but after looking at my records, I realized it’s closer to 200 castrations with the Burdizzo. We’ve had 0 failures on goats.

One reason I think it’s been so successful is because I hold the cord with one hand as I’m clamping it with the other, so it can’t slip out. All of the people I’ve heard complain about failures with Burdizzos have been cattle people, and if you’ve ever seen a cattle Burdizzo, it’s huge and you have to use two hands with it. That means it’s impossible to hold the cord while clamping. I have used the sheep and goat sized Burdizzo on smaller cattle, such as Jersey and Irish Dexter, and it worked fine.

Because we usually butcher intact lambs, I have not castrated that many sheep. However, if a lamb is not big enough to send to the locker in the fall, I have castrated them so they can grow out more over the next year. I have had three failures in sheep.

I think this was due to the fact that 6-month-old sheep have wool on their scrotum — a lot of wool! And it provides a great cushion that protects that cord. The first time I castrated sheep I was worried that it might not have been successful because it didn’t feel like it clamped down as far as it does with the goats, even though it locked into place. It only failed on one side on three sheep, but they’re not wethered unless both sides have been castrated. So, if you have a failure, you can see how one testicle keeps growing while the other is shrinking.

I have recently heard that some people clamp both sides twice, but I don’t see the point in doing this with goats. There have been three or four times in all the goats I’ve done when I thought the cord might have slipped out of the Burdizzo, and in those cases I re-clamped that side.

But in the case of the sheep, I redid the failed side when we discovered it a few weeks later. If I do older sheep again, I will clamp each side twice if they have a lot of wool on their scrotum. It’s ultimately less stressful for them to have to go through the whole procedure only once, rather than waiting a few weeks and going through it again.

If you sell sheep or goats that have been castrated with a Burdizzo, be sure to tell the buyer. Many years ago I bought a sheep that had just been castrated with a Burdizzo, and when I noticed testicles, I freaked out thinking that he was still a ram. I emailed the seller, and she explained Burdizzo castration to me.

However, some buyers might just take the animal to the vet and have it go through another procedure unnecessarily. I have heard of this happening multiple times. Unfortunately, some vets are unaware of the normal size of goat and sheep testicles at various ages, and if they feel any testicles at all, they just assume the goat needs to be castrated. This is why I created the photos below that show the difference between brothers — one who is intact and two that were castrated. 

When I sell goats that have been castrated with a Burdizzo or Side Crusher, which is a similar tool, I also show buyers exactly what size the testicles are in relation to the length of my fingers, so they’ll know when they’re shrinking. And I explain to them how big the testicle would get within the next month if they had not been castrated.

3-month old bucklings
5-month old Castrated Bucklings

Having experienced all three different methods of sheep and goat castration that are common in the US, we prefer the Burdizzo because the kids and lambs are the least stressed and recover more quickly. Plus I don’t have to worry about tetanus, fly strike, or other infections because the skin isn’t broken.


Want to learn more about the methods of sheep and goat castration? Check out Castration options for goat kids

castrating goats with a burdizzo

162 thoughts on “Castrating Goats and Sheep with a Burdizzo”

    • Yes. The goat in the video is a 4-month-old ND. I’ve done 6-month-old sheep and goats, as well as a 3-year-old goat.

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      • So this is okay for a fully grown adult male nigerian dwarf? I have four of them that range in age from 2 to 3 years old. The vets here will not castrate them due to the potential problems, and I’m seriously petrified of doing anything at all. I don’t want to do it.. but they are destroying things here… and I don’t want my does impregnated again…. SO…. I’m wondering how you would go about restraining a large Nigerian in order to do something like this… How did the older goat you castrated react? Just like the smaller one? I HATE to hear them scream.. but I’ve realized I have GOT to get things under control.. and I guess this will be my only option. 🙁

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        • Yes, the adult screamed for a few seconds, then walked funny for a few minutes, and then he was fine. We sat him on his butt exactly the same way that we sat the kid on his butt, but we had an extra person to hold one of the rear legs since the goat was bigger, and the person holding the goat in his lap couldn’t hold both of the rear legs. We did a LaMancha buck, which is a lot bigger than a ND adult.

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      • What breed was the 3 year old goat? I have a few well endowed angora goats that I’d like to do. I’ve done kids successfully but I’m nervous about doing these boys… they are 1-3 years old.

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    • I have an adult buck with really massive testicles. I rescued him, so don’t know his exact age. Would this method work for him? I can email you a picture if it helps

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      • Yes, you can castrate adult bucks. The size of the testicles is irrelevant. You are crushing the cord that goes to the testicles.

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          • When I castrated a 150# LaMancha buck, I had my husband hold him with the goat sitting on his rump, and my husband had one arm around the bucks upper body while he held one hind leg while my son held the other hind leg so that I didn’t get kicked in the head. It worked.

    • In our experience with Shetlands, they taste fine until at least 15 months of age. We’re newer to hair sheep so have only had them processed up to about 6 months, but the lamb was delicious. Once they are a few years old, they are actually mutton, rather than lamb, and the taste is very strong. The taste of different male animals is different at different ages. We’ve also had beef from bulls, which was delicious, as well as a six-month-old intact goat.

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  1. Sorry if I missed this in the post but, how long do you clamp it for on each side? I’ve heard between 10 and 30 seconds. It seems like a wide range. Does the age of the buck matter to how long you should clamp? Thanks!

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  2. Hello, I’m seeing many different Burdizzo Emasculators at different prices on Amazon.co.uk, which is where I need to order from. Is the 9″ one a good size for kids & lambs? Any reason why I need to buy one of the more expensive ones? They all look the same to me!
    Thanks for your advice

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    • The look the same until you have them in your hand. Burdizzo is a trademarked word. It is one type of emasculator. A real Burdizzo is quite heavy, and there’s no gap between the crusher and the side “tooth” that keeps the cord from rolling off. Someone who bought one of the cheap ones said that it was not very heavy, and there was a gap so the cord might not be fully crushed. That may be why some videos show crushing twice on each side? We have a real Burdizzo, however, and it works great with a single crush.

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  3. Did have any problems with using a small burdizzo on the older adults you castrated? Or would you recommend a larger one for older goats? I have a ND/Pygmy yearling I need to castrate.

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    • Not a problem at all with a goat that age. I had some failures with older sheep, but I’m pretty sure that was because the wool on their scrotum cushioned it. It did not feel the same, and I questioned it as I was doing it. If I had to do an older sheep again, I’d use dog clippers to shave the wool off the scrotum. But goats don’t have that issue.

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  4. I have a problem with the little bucks chasing the does into the ground. I banded one year and lost one from tetanus and some others were stressed out and the worms got them. They moped around for a month or more. I was going to try the bourdizzo method but wondered how long after till they quit chasing the does. After banding they were too miserable to chase them. They are 2 months and going to market in another 3 months. Thanks

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    • If they are only two months old when you castrate, they should stop within a couple of weeks, but if someone is in heat, wethers of all ages will mount does.

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      • I have a Din Smith don’t know if that is a good brand or not. I couldn’t really feel any cord to crush, they are 2 month old Boer kids. It made a cut on his skin where I crushed. I have had goats since the 70’s but never really bothered to castrate. They are so pesty, running the does to death this time of year. When I banded one year they never bothered the does they were so miserable and it took for ever for the testicles to fall off. I have some that need to go to market next month and don’t want them to have testicles half falling off. Thanks

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        • I have never heard of Din Smith, and I couldn’t find anything on Google either. It should NOT break the skin, so that makes me wonder about the quality. That’s what I love about it — there is no broken skin, so zero risk of tetanus. You should be able to feel the cord that goes to the testicles. I can even feel it on a tiny Nigerian dwarf that’s a month old.

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          • The ones marked DIN SMITH are sold by Premier1. The pair I got from them also has their logo on the reverse side.

      • In response to the above question and answer, are they unable to reproduce as soon as the burdizzo is used or does that also take a few weeks? I’m asking because my buckling is going to a farm with a young doe and I plan on using the burdizzo on him.

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        • It depends on the age at castration. If you castrate at 2-3 months, he can’t breed a doe at that age anyway, so no worries. If you castrate an adult, I wouldn’t let him be with does for a couple of months. After 4 months of age, the answer to this question is very gray, so just castrate by 3 months, and you don’t have anything to worry about.

          On a related note, castration at 2-3 months does not cause urinary stones. Feeding grain and/or alfalfa causes urinary stones, so be sure the new owner understands that he should not have grain after he is 6 months old, and he should only have small amounts (like 1/2 cup twice a day). Alfalfa is also fine when he is young as he can use the extra calcium for growing. Feel free to share this article with the new owner — https://thriftyhomesteader.com/what-do-goats-eat-it-depends/

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  5. Thanks a lot for your post. It is really informative. It answered all the concerns/questions I had. I didn’t know the Nigerian Dwarf goat was a thing outside Nigeria . I’m speaking as a Nigerian living in Nigeria. It’s good to know our goats are kicking hide far and wide. It’s really good work you’re doing. I enjoyed reading your story.

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    • This comment made me smile because I’m always wondering if Nigerians like their dwarf goats as much as everyone else does. Very cool. 🙂 I agree, great vid with just enough information on a topic that can be a little intimidating to approach.

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  6. Thanks for all this good information. I have wool sheep and most folks use the banding method. I’ve never liked the idea of cutting off blood flow with bands (I don’t dock either), so I decided to try the Burdizzo. Thanks to the video, I know how to hold the cord so it doesn’t slip. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Hello there. Thanks so much for your video that was really helpful. I have Nigerian pygmy cross goats and I also have dexter cattle, do you have experience using the burdizzo on small cattle? Could I use the same size burdizzo on both?

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  8. Thank you for this! We have hair sheep and we usually just keep the intact rams separate from the ewes (because we really hate castrating!), but this year we decided that we would rather run them all together. So, we were trying to decide what method to use and doing nothing until we realized the lambs were going on 4 months! We have the California bander as well as an emasculator from Premier 1 and you helped me decide which to use! Btw, my emasculator actually looks a lot like your Burdizzo.

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  9. I bought a cheaper emasculatome from Premeir. It is very difficult to open back up after clamping. So far I have only practiced in the house with it. Is it normal for it to be so difficult to open? It also has the gaps on the sides. I went ahead and ordered the Richie Nipper because of this but it won’t come for a few days. The lamb I want to castrate is almost 3 months of age, and is quite “well endowed”. Is it really OK to do this w/o any pain medication, Banamine, etc? Will waiting a few more days for the better tool to arrive make a difference?

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    • Yes, it is normal for it to take quite a bit of strength for it to open. If it was loose, it wouldn’t do the job.

      Lambs don’t usually make any noise at all when you castrate them. I don’t know of anyone who uses pain meds when castrating with a Burdizzo.

      Waiting a few days will not make a difference. I have castrated lambs and rams at various ages up to a year old. Just make sure there isn’t a lot of wool where you clamp. I had a couple of failures with rams, and I think that’s why — the wool cushioned the crusher, so it didn’t really work as well. (It only failed on one side.)

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  10. Great article, we just had two bucks castrated using the burdizzo, and wondering if what we are seeing is normal. They were done six days ago, their scrotum have been purple and swollen, as expected. Tonight upon putting them to bed we noticed their scrotums were greenish/white and weeping through the skin. Very alarming. Temps, energy, and apatites all fine. Should I be worried? Thanks

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    • None of that is normal! The scrotum does NOT turn purple or swell up. It doesn’t even turn purple when done with a bander, so this is very strange. I’ve never heard of a scrotum turning purple after any type of castration. Did the person do the whole scrotum at once rather than doing one side at a time? It sounds like they either did the whole scrotum at once or they went too far to the center with each side and essentially cut off blood supply to the whole scrotum. Keep a close eye on them and be sure they are continuing to eat and act normally. Going off feed or hiding in a corner is the first sign of a sick goat. Can you give me more details about how the castration compared to the video?

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  11. I loved this post! Thank you so much. I have used this method on two of our bucks at two months old and it worked great! I appreciate the information and experiences you have posted:)

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  12. Thank you so much for the video and the post. I have some boys I need to do from three and a half months to about two years. I was very worried that doing the two oldest with the emasculator would be a bad idea. Now I just need to figure out how to do it with just me or find someone to help hold them.

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    • It would be challenging to do a kid alone. I can’t imagine anyone could do an adult unless someone else was holding it.

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      • I have clamped older lambs and young adult rams by myself, by placing them on their butts like I was going to shear them.. I was able to hold and control them with a little pressure from my legs/knees much like when you are shearing them or trimming feet, etc.. a small ram might be a bit wiggly to hold and castrate without help, but if you can control and shear sheep on their butts, you can likely clamp them on their butts by yourself as well, you’re just working bent over and upside down.. (and to say I did it without help, I will admit my son would give them a small handful of grain to chomp on to take their mind off of what I was doing – so I did have some help – he was just too young to be handling the sheep) the rams that I have clamped, I didn’t feel that they acted like they were effected by the procedure. I felt using the burdizzo was a humane way of castrating. Just have to be careful to keep the cord in there and clamp both sides separately.

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  13. I actually found this quite shocking .
    I took my ND to the vet for castration (France) she used this method but sedated him and left the clamps on.for 5 minutes each side .He certainly didn’t feel the pain this poor little one did .. I guess it beats banding …but I believe a local would be a lot kinder .

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    • I have never heard of anyone sedating a goat for a Burdizzo castration OR leaving the Burdizzo on for five minutes. Both are totally unnecessary. The cord is severed within a few seconds. You are taking a huge risk whenever you sedate a goat. Most vets avoid sedating a goat at all costs, evening using an epidural for c-sections, because goats do not do well with anesthesia, and some simply do not wake up. The risk of sedation to a goat (possible death) are far worse than the pain, which lasts only a few seconds.

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      • My vet gave light sedation for 6 month old Nigerians. He does cows all the time using the burdizzo but he said he thought I would be happier with them being lightly sedated. They really were out of it. And they were in pain and misery for days. It was a terrible experience for me and the boys.

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  14. I used a burdizzo for the first time this spring on my buckling. I was feeling confident that it had worked, but am second guessing as now the supposed whether is acting very bucky- chasing the does and mounting them and so on. How can you be sure the burdizzo worked, besides the size of the goat’s testicles?

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    • If you castrated him in the spring, his testicles would have grown a LOT by now. It would be VERY obvious. If he’s a Nigerian and he was less than 3 months old when you castrated him, his testicles would be the size of marble. If he was not castrated, they would larger than eggs — much larger. Also, it’s highly unlikely you would fail on both sides unless you had a defective instrument, so if the two testicles are the same size, it probably worked. But the size difference is incredibly huge six months after castrating. There is no guessing. Wethers may act bucky around does in heat. In fact, does may act bucky around does in heat.

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    • If you are asking when a buck (new wether) can be with does, that is going to vary based upon age. I castrate bucklings at 2 months because I don’t want to ever separate them from their dam because they gain weight better if they keep nursing. A two-month-old isn’t producing sperm, so he is certainly not going to start the day after the cord is crushed. However, when I castrated the adults, I never let them in with does again because there was no reason to let them run with does. I haven’t seen any research on this in goats, but I know after a human vasectomy, it can takes weeks for all of the sperm to clear out, so I wouldn’t risk putting an adult buck in with does for at least a couple of months after a castration, if there was a compelling reason to let him stay with the does. But like I said, I never let an adult back in with does after castration.

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  15. I have always used the bands before but have had some failures due to bands breaking or not getting both testicles. Thinking about using a burdizzo but not sure which brand to get. I have seen some reviews where they have issues with the clamps having a gap or something else wrong with them. I want a good set and I seen a really nice set on the Premier1 site that are a side clamp but they are like $104. Premier1 sells quality stuff but just not sure I want to spend that kind of money just to try this method. I noticed the one in the bottom right of your pic has a little different style. Where did you get it and do you prefer it or the other one in the pic? I’ve checked on eBay but do not see that style and see a lot are from China and I do not trust anything they make as far as quality goes. Would appreciate your input. Please email me as I just happened to run across your site on YouTube.

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    • Burdizzo is a brand name, and that is what is pictured in this post and in the video. I bought mine from Caprine Supply. I have not yet used the one sold by Premier1, but a real Burdizzo — not a cheap imitation — is almost that expensive. It’s way more than just a pair of pliers, even though it looks pretty simple.

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  16. Just an FYI…I just ordered the small burdizzo from Caprine Supply. It is NOT a real burdizzo; it is a burdizzo style. And it also has gaps between the part that crushes and the cord stops. It does feel very heavy though. The one they shipped to me is not like the one in the video. I talked to customer service and they said they haven’t changed suppliers recently. I’m not sure what went wrong but now I’m stuck with an overpriced item that I don’t want. I don’t want someone else to be in the same boat.

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      • You can castrate at any age if you can get the testicles in the tool. However, it’s not recommended earlier than about 1 month, with most people castrating at 2 months or later because of the increased risk of urinary stones causing a problem if they are castrated too early. Castration doesn’t cause stones, but some people think that the earlier you castrate, the less time the urinary tract has to develop and that it will be smaller and more likely for a stone to get trapped and cause a problem.

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  17. I followed the link that you posted above where you bought your Burdizzo from and it states on the site that you can use it for extra teats. What is your stand on that ? Would this be for an extra working teat?

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    • I don’t know anyone who has ever used it for this. If a doeling is born with an extra teat, and you want to get rid of it, most people just use nail clippers to snip it right then while it’s tiny. I would not attempt to do anything with an extra teat on an adult doe.

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  18. Hi,
    Could you tell me the age of Peter Pan the castrated goat in the video? Thanks for the video and the article, all are very helpful!

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    • The video was created in October. He was born in March and castrated at two months, so that’s what his scrotum looked like five months after castration.

      Reply
    • What I meant to ask is, how long had it been since his procedure? Wondering how long it takes to get from castration day to the goat obviously looking like he has been through a successful procedure.

      Reply
      • This is what he looked like five months after he was castrated. I don’t have any pictures of him at any other time. To know if the procedure worked, you just need to be sure the scrotum is no longer growing. I usually measure it against my finger, and they are usually about the length of one of my fingers. I just make sure it never gets any longer, and within a month or so, it starts to get shorter. The other thing is that I’ve never had a failure on both sides, so if you can tell that the two sides are obviously different sizes, then the larger size needs to be redone.

        Reply
  19. Thank you for the article and video. This is my first year with livestock and this April has kept me on my toes. I’ve learned so much. My ewe had twin rams a week ago and since then I’ve been reading about and analyzing castration techniques. I concluded the emasculatome seemed safest and most humane but was looking for feedback from those who had tried the various techniques. Your analysis is exactly what I needed, and I appreciate the discussion on preferred age of castration and why.

    Reply
    • Yes, it is. I’d suggesting opening and closing it a few times to practice before actually using it on a goat or sheep.

      Reply
    • Because of the risk of urinary calculi, I don’t like to castrate any earlier than 4 weeks, but 8 weeks is better. Using the Burdizzo on a Nigerian or other small breed is pretty challenging at 4 weeks, so I’m not sure you really could do it much younger than that with them.

      Reply
  20. Hi, I used the burdizzo for the first time yesterday on 2 little bucklings. Unfortunately I did have to do it more than once on a few sides as I felt the cord slip out as I was pinching.. Either way it got done and probably hurt me more than them. I couldn’t fall asleep last night as I could still feel the crunch over and over. Today the scrotum seems swollen on both little guys although it doesn’t seem to be bothering them at all. I’m quite sure I did not cross the centre line at all, but in the traumatic event ( again more so for me than them) who knows? I did read that swelling is normal for the first couple days, but not on your site, but I’m still concerned. Will keep a close watch.

    Reply
  21. I read in a book to only close the tool on 1/3 of the cord because there are blood vessels in the middle of the cord. Is that true? Or do you crush the whole cord? I don’t want to do it one way and cause complications and I don’t want to do it the other way and have to repeat because it didn’t work. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Sounds like a typo. You should only close the tool on 1/3 of the SCROTUM because there are blood vessels in the middle of the scrotum. You must clamp the entire cord, or the castration won’t work. You don’t want any blood to be able to get to the testicle, but you do still want blood flow to the scrotum. The scrotum does not shrivel up and fall up as in banding. It just stops growing and shrinks some, so they’ll have a tiny scrotum forever.

      Reply
  22. we had our goat castrated last week by a lady that owns a farm down the road and now we noticed that his scrotum has swollen and gotten quite hard tried she clamped the whole scrotum in the emasculator and we’re wondering if she may have done any damage. Poor little guy looks like he has a coconut between his legs

    Reply
    • You are not supposed to do the whole thing with one clamp. You are supposed to do one side at a time. The goal is only to cut off blood supply to each testicle, not the entire scrotum. It should not be swollen like that. It’s hard to say what will happen at this point. It depends on what exactly happened. You might want to call the vet to see what they say.

      Reply
  23. I have a buck that’s about 10 months I need to neuter. He has big horns how would I be able to restrain him without getting hurt.
    I’m going to use a burdizzo.

    Reply
    • If you could get his head into a milk stand (head gate) or tie his collar to a wall, that should keep his horns away from you, but you would still need someone to hold his hind legs so that he couldn’t kick you.

      Reply
      • I did it today! With the help from my adult sons. I could not use the burdizzo myself due to it being super hard for me to open and close it. We did do what you said. I held his hind legs, one of my sons held his horns, the other did the deed.

        Also, I agree with you after this experience, burdizzo is the way!
        I had banded his brother when we first got him. Never again. Thank you for all your information and help!!

        Reply
    • It depends on the breed. For a small breed like a Nigerian dwarf, I find it difficult at a month, so I wouldn’t try it any earlier than that. There is also the increased risk of urinary stones causing a problem if you castrate too early, so most people don’t recommend it before 1-2 months regardless of how you do it, with some people doing it even later.

      Reply
  24. Hi there, You said in the video that this ND was 4 months old and you like to castrate earlier. At what age do you recommend? I’ve heard that we shouldn’t do it too early to give the urethra plenty of time to develop. Our little guy is 7 weeks old now. He is in with the does and I’m planning to leave him there, but don’t want to risk him impregnating anyone. Thanks so much for sharing this information!!

    Reply
    • I usually do the boys at 2 months so they can stay with mom. The most important thing about urinary calculi is that you NOT feed grain once the boys are more than about 5-6 months old. Never feeding them grain is totally fine, but 5-6 months should be about the max. Castrating doesn’t cause UC. Feeding grain causes it. The connection between the two is that the larger the urethra is, the larger stone they can pass. But if you are not feeding a diet that causes stones to form, then it really doesn’t matter what size the urethra is.

      Reply
      • I am curious to know how castration affects growth of the urethra and why early castration should lead to a narrow urethra. Is it a hormone thing? I guess the testes are not physically connected to the urethra…

        Reply
        • It’s related to hormones. Once they are castrated, testosterone production plummets. This is why wethers also have shorter beards and smaller horns than bucks.

          Reply
  25. Just so you are aware, Caprine Supply no longer sells brand name Burdizzos. They still advertise them as a Burdizzo, but they sent me a “Sharpvet” emasculatome. Still charged the premium price, though.

    Reply
    • I have not, but after the initial scream they get over it really fast, and there is always a risk associated with any injection and/or drug. I can’t imagine banamine would stop the initial scream, and I wouldn’t have anything after that to judge as far as whether or not it made a difference.

      Reply
  26. The link u provided to purchase showed the small (which is what you said), but the description in the link said up to 6 months old. Will that small one do older goats too? Thx

    Reply
  27. Like yourself, we tried all methods with our herd. I’ll never go back! As you stated, they recover within minutes, never needing to revisit thAT issue again.. Unless, that is, you are like myself. We had one failure with the burdizzo which was (I believe) user error… MY error. I was so squeamish about ‘hurting’ a very beloved kid that I must not have committed fully to the squeeze (on one side). It was my first time doing ‘the deed’ myself (as I was guided). I had a professional, her husband and my fiancé present. Everyone present was dedicated to a quick & succesful castration. The nearly 5 month old twins were up & bouncing about in quick time & I was deeply relieved to have it over! But there came a plot twist. I was quite ill through the Fall & Winter & had only watched & photographed the shrinking…? scrotum of the twins for a few months ‘confirming’ the success of the castration until our warm January was upon us & I was providing ‘pedicures’ to the herd. I watch them afterward to assure there’s no sore feet & everyone’s gait is on track. That’s when I saw the one twin getting with a doe. She was in standing heat & I didn’t react since I was so sure there was no possibility of a pregnancy. He was steadfast though & she was stooping to his level for accommodation. I watched disbelievingly until I couldn’t deny my vision any longer & ran to view his backside. I think I nearly fainted at the size of his one testicle! I do not know how you miss it but I had. I now have one pregnant doe & A BUCK . We have the terrible reality of Covid & I need to dry castrate this twins one testicle. I’m worked up & sweated just giving it thought! Feel like I failed my poor boy! Even still, I feel like the other methods are a horrendous hardship on sheep & goats & was in deep misery with the kids when they went through that awful time before I’d heard of the burdizzo. Guess I’ll be working up my courage and ‘sinking that 8 ball’ soon but wondering what size burdizzo to get..? Our buckling is now a yearling.

    Reply
    • If it is a Burdizzo and not another brand of emasculator, the same one will work for a yearling. I did a 3-year-old LaMancha with it successfully. I’ve also used a Premier1 Side Crusher, and it would not be big enough to use on a yearling.

      Reply
  28. Thanks for the info! The best explanation I’ve see . I have a 4 month old buckling and the vet came a week and change ago and used a Burdizzo. How soon should I notice any change to his testicles? I was trying to wait as long as possible to avoid any issues with his urethra but my vet made me nervous that it would take time to know if it worked or not. He seems like just this week he’s just starting to act a little buck-y and I want to know how quickly I would notice any shrinking.

    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • You don’t really notice shrinking. However, testicles grow VERY fast at that age, so you can just measure the scrotum every week. If it is not getting any bigger, then it’s done. For a two-month-old Nigerian dwarf kid, I know that their scrotum is normally about as long as the first two knuckles of one of my fingers, so I just use that for comparison. I don’t use a ruler or anything like that.

      Reply
        • I haven’t seen any swell, but others have told me that they’ve had it happen. Some have admitted it was because the goat jumped, so there was more trauma than normal. Be sure you have someone holding the goat who will hold on tight.

          Reply
  29. After reading this article, I switched my method of castrating (banding) my ND. SOOO IMPRESSED and THANKFUL! I have in turn recommended this article to many others. Thanks again for such fantastic, clear, information and instructions.
    One question. How long does it take after using the burdizzo, for the now wethered billy to not be able to reproduce?
    I want to be able to house the mini Nubian (6mo. old) we just castrated last week, with a 12 week old, ND doeling next month… but I am nervous. Both his testicles have started to shrink already.

    Reply
    • I recommend reading above the previously answers for this exact question above asked at least 2-3 times. Bottom line: 2 months after Burdizzo castration is safe, possibly sooner, but why risk it? Take your time. It’s takes *at least* a few weeks for total cessation/evacuation of sperm to occur.

      Reply
    • No. You do not want to cut off all blood supply to the scrotum. You should only do one side at a time so that only the testicles die and shrivel up.

      Reply
  30. Is there a particular burdizzo tool that you recommend? They range from $20 and up on Amazon. I’d love to buy the $20 one if it works but obviously I want a quality tool that will get the job done correctly. By the way, I love your book, podcast, and blog. We are new to goats and I have been ravenously educating myself since last fall. It wasn’t until the other day that I realized that my favorite goat book, podcast, and blog were all by you. Thanks for all the great information!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found my info helpful!

      Burdizzo is supposed to be a patented design for an emasculator. Unfortunately, whoever invented it is not doing anything to protect that patent or the name because I have seen so many ripoffs. I think Amazon has a pretty good return policy. The one I have does not have a gap between the teeth on each end and the part that crushes, but a lot of the imitations do. It’s always a good idea to check the scrotum a couple of weeks after doing this to be sure that both testicles are shrinking — or at least not growing at all. At two months when most people castrate, they grow really fast, so it’s obvious when it’s done correctly. It is easy to do it again if it didn’t work the first time.

      Reply
      • Thank you! I’ll order and see what I get. This is for a 2 year old goat, I know that it’s not typical to castrate such a mature buck but he will be a pet and companion for a CAE positive doe of ours when they go to their new home. Have you had experience castrating an older buck? I’m sure it will be more difficult to tell if it was successful at first. After doing some research we decided that the burdizzo would be more humane than taking him to the vet for castration. However, we are pretty new to the goat world, just want to make sure we do what’s best for them. 🙂

        Reply
        • I castrated a 3-year-old LaMancha buck. It was actually the reason I bought the Burdizzo originally. It worked fine. I’d suggest having two people to hole him while you do it so that you can avoid being kicked.

          Reply
  31. I have a 5 month Pygmy/Nigerian cross that we are going to try this method on . Just curious as to whether or not you give antibiotics after the procedure ?

    Reply
    • There is no need to give antibiotics or a tetanus shot or anything because you do NOT break the skin.

      Reply
  32. We had our buckling (Burdizzo method) done on July 1st at 12 weeks old. One side was done twice. He has shrunk up, but I can still feel testes and a cord going up. The cord does feel kind of crimped on one side way up high. How long does it take for the sack to be empty? I do not want to redo it if it’s not needed.

    Reply
    • The testicles don’t shrivel up entirely for months. If the castration had not been successful, the testicles would have continued to grow. They would be bigger now than they were on July 1. I will soon be taking photos of brothers side by side — one who was castrated and one who was not. At this age, their testicles grow so fast! They don’t have to be gone to be non-functioning. The goal is for them to be dead — and if they are smaller, then they are dead. The cord does not have to be gone. It just have to be damaged to the point that blood can’t flow through it. Without blood flow, the testicles are dead.

      Reply
  33. Thank you so much. I do feel much better now about it. He is definitely smaller and not growing. I was told if you feel a cord in there it did not work even though he is shrinking up.

    Reply
    • You’re welcome! Oddly enough, most people don’t know much about this type of castration. I’ve even heard of vets giving people incorrect information about goat testicles after castration like this — and not recognizing a goat that was obviously castrated already. I think a big part of it is that most vets have never owned goats so they have no idea how this actually works in real goats from week to week — or how big goat testicles should be at certain ages.

      Reply
  34. We adopted a goat family this summer. One little buckling was castrates this way at two months. We got him around four months. I’ve read all your comments and replies, but since I didn’t see them “before” I have nothing to measure from. Should I just assume since they’re they same size it worked on both? I don’t feel any testicles or anything inside the scrotum…

    Reply
  35. Thanks so much for the information! I did this on one of my male goats who was too large for a band. I couldn’t believe how quickly after the procedure he was back to being himself. I walked over to get some grape leaves for him, and he was already playing with the goats. And he only screamed during the clamp. Much less traumatic than I thought it would be.

    Reply
  36. We raise a few dairy goats and Katahdins and have only used the emasculator and love it. We get big, grass-fed wethers for fall harvest, castrating when they are 4-6 weeks old. My question is, this current crop of wethers were mounting and extending a couple of times so we’ve separated them (maybe previous wethers did too and we just didn’t see it). We inspected everyone and found some scrotal sacs to be flat and feel empty but many had a small testicle, about the size of an average thumb just past the first knuckle/a smidge bigger than a quail egg. These are 80-90#+, 5.5 month “wethers,” so if intact they would have much more bulbous sacs by this age. Their sacs are high and tight, arrowhead shaped rather than pendulous or droopy, and they don’t act rammy (manes, aggression, etc). We’re worried that there may be viable sperm in the puny testicles (only one felt totally empty on both sides). What do you make of this? We don’t usually feel them at this age- it could be this happens each year. EVERYONE says to just band them, I know the vet will too, but we just don’t want to. BTW…my first doe came from your farm. 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sounds like they are castrated. I can feel a testicle about half an inch in circumference in each half of the scrotum on my 5-6-month-old goat kids. If I don’t feel a testicle in the sac, I can find it just inside the body, so they are all still there. I’m guessing you could probably find a testicle on all of yours if you pressed against the body near the base of the scrotum. I have had wethers mate a doe in previous years. Oddly, it was once a 5-year-old wether that had never done it before, so it happens but it’s unpredictable. I wouldn’t say it’s common, but it happens.

      Which doe did you get from my farm? 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks so much for your reply. There’s so much doubt and skepticism with emasculators, it’s hard to find answers and feel confident. I agree but we won’t roll the dice to reunite them. They sure don’t act like rams and we’re very careful and precise with the tool. Even a few weeks after castration, it is visually obvious if one side was missed. I’m thinking one figured out this thing they could do, then it was monkey see, monkey do for a couple of others.

        Our first doe was AO The Nina’s Annie. Loved her! We bought her from a local farm (so I’ve not been to your place) and sold her with her doeling to another teen nearby (Madison, WI area) so she’s seen a lot! Her doeling that we retained is a great homestead dairy goat.

        Reply
    • I wouldn’t. There is just no reason to do it. It’s just a pinch. It is a big pinch, but still just a pinch, not surgery, and meloxicam is a prescription drug that can have serious side effects. It actually destroyed my stomach, making it challenging for me to sleep for two weeks after I stopped taking it, and I had only taken it for a few days. Goats have very sensitive digestive systems that are easy to mess up. I don’t like to do anything that could potentially cause an issue unless the benefit to risk ratio leans very heavily towards big benefits. If you are unfamiliar with using a Burdizzo, I can understand that it might seem like you need to provide that, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest using drugs for banding, and that causes a lot more pain and distress and for a lot longer period of time. I’ve also never heard of anyone giving a drug like that for Burdizzo castration.

      Reply
  37. Thank you for a great article!
    I was told to measure the testicles to make sure they started shrinking after crimping. If they shrunk, but didn’t completely disappear, is it still considered a successful castration?
    I have a year old guy who was crimped at 4 months old. His testicles are still in there, but tiny (maybe 1/2 inch).
    When all the females started coming into heat now, he’s been acting super bucky, humping, extending, tongue out and all that. One of my volunteers says she saw him ejaculate, can they “shoot blanks”?
    I have an appointment to redo the crimping but I wanted to ask if you have had cases where the testicles shrunk but didn’t disappear, and that was able to impregnate?
    Thank you so much for your time!!

    Reply
    • He is absolutely castrated and cannot reproduce. A one-year-old buck would have a scrotum larger than your open hand, even if it was a little Nigerian dwarf buck. Each testicle would be larger than an egg. It is completely normal for a wether to mount does in heat. That is why many people keep a wether with their does — to let them know when a doe is in “standing heat.” They are referred to as teaser bucks. I call them my heat detectors and joke that they don’t know they are not a real buck. If a doe is standing when the wether mounts her, you go get a real buck to do the job. I have had wethers appear to mate a doe, even if surgically castrated.

      Your volunteer probably saw him peeing. Bucks don’t ejaculate outside of a doe, but they do squirt urine all over the place when excited. They even squirt pee on their faces. I can’t tell you how many new goat owners think their doe has mucus on her vulva when it’s just urine. (I always ask for photos for that reason.) Bucks pee on themselves so much that they can wind up with urine scald, and their face and the back of their front legs turn yellow. It’s incredibly gross.

      I am concerned that someone made an appointment with you to castrate him, assuming you told them his testicles are 1/2 inch. I would be very worried about how much they know about goats. Sadly I have heard of more than one vet who put a buck through unnecessary pain and charged people for a castration that was completely unnecessary.

      Reply
      • Thank you so much for your reply. We are very limited in terms of veterinary expertise here (I’m in Hawaii). I have two to chose from and neither one of them had ever used crimping as a castration method before. I wanted to find the most humane option for the procedure and asked my vet to look into crimping, I bought the clamp myself.

        She has done seven for me now, three of which weren’t successful. Those three were very obviously a fail, with one testicle significantly larger than the other. I know she’s gotten better at it now, and more people are asking for crimping instead of other options, in the beginning she had troubles with the cord slipping out of the tool.

        With this one in question, she came out to look at him after I reacted on his extra bucky behavior long after his crimping (I have 33 goats, and several of the weathers will have some of this behavior too, but this guy is definitely worse). She said that she could still feel the cords and the testes (both small, 1/2-1 inch) and that he probably still could impregnate.

        I scheduled a new appointment to redo it but I didn’t feel good about it. After your (and several others) added knowledge, I ended up canceling it.

        So I hope he’s really infertile and just an extra horny little guy.. 😉

        Buckaroo thanks you extra for your advice!

        Reply
  38. Thank you for this information! We have a two month old Dexter x Jersey bull calf that we want to castrate. I am not sure which size Burdizzo to use. I see that you have castrated similar calves with the 9-inch tool, but you don’t mention their ages, so I wonder if that size would work for our calf? I would plan to castrate future calves much younger, but for this one it’s going to be whenever we get the Burdizzo… the little guy is about the size of a full grown ram, but of course his testicles are much much smaller. Thanks!

    Reply
  39. Hi from Portugal!
    I hope you are all well and safe in these mad times?
    Thanks for this very helpful posting and video whivh gives me the courage to finally castrate my 4 month old buck and later two 1 month old cousins.
    My problem is this…. I purchased my burdizzo from Amazon but I cannot get it to open!?!? I thought that one screw might be securing it and that I have to remove it, but that does not work. I looked at yours and see you used it with all the (4) screws in place.
    I am stumped!!! I hope you understand the problem and can advise me! It is probably something silly that I have not fathomed?
    Looking forward to learning how to get it to work!
    Kind regards
    Amelia

    Reply
  40. Wow, that was quick! Thank you

    Indeed, I have found out what you write was the problem. I tried with all my might and yes, it opened. Now for some screaming tomorrow. Am not looking forward to it but some things must be done!

    Your site is my new found gem. Thanks for so kindly sharing your knowledge!

    Reply
  41. Followed the link to Caprine and also searched for Brand Name Burdizzo tool. The brand name tool is similar to what you demonstrate but has long handles. Caprine confirmed that what they offer for about $60.00 plus $20.00 shipping is a Burdizzo “style” tool and not the actual brand name tool. I have no problem “buying off-brand”, but I must have high quality and I’d rather not support China. So, my questions are: What actual brand of Burdizzo style tool do you have? Is it high quality, good value for the $$? Looking on Amazon just gives me a headache, so much junk and no true idea what you’ve getting. Great article btw. Very informative and to the point. Thank you for the time and effort you put into this. Please do email me back!

    Reply
    • I just searched for Burdizzo on Caprine Supply’s website, and their “Small Burdizzo” looks like what I have. I couldn’t find a picture of anything with longer handles. I know they make one with handles that are much longer for calves, and it would take two hands to operate. I got mine more than 10 years ago from Caprine Supply, so maybe they have changed their supplier since then. Unfortunately I’m not sure where you can get a real Burdizzo any longer. Protecting trademarks across the globe has become impossible. I’d suggest buying from someone who has a good return policy, so if you get a poor quality instrument, you can at least return it.

      Reply
  42. This is a great article!! And the video is such an good informative aid! My burdizzo I ordered is very hard to open/close. Did you have this problem at first? If so what did you do?

    Reply
    • Yes, it is initially very hard to open and close, but it needs to be so that it works. Be sure that you don’t store it in the closed position, or it will lose its crushing power over time.

      Reply
  43. So… I bought the side crusher from Premier1Supplies. Cost me a lot since I’m in Canada… so Canadian $ plus shipping, but glad I got the tool. I used it on two 12 week old bucklings. My vet was here to disbud three 1 week old buckling so, despite her not liking what she heard are failures with this type of castration, she kindly guided me through it. Her assistant held my boys torso and front legs, the vet held the back legs, and I used the tool. I’m terribly soft hearted, but I knew that it had to be done without hesitation. My boys were obviously in pain after the procedure. They lied down and were shaking even a couple of hours later. I was madly trying to reach the vet re. pain med, and yes, I ended up giving them pain med orally. One dose was enough. So… next time, in only about 5 weeks from now, I’ll have three other boys to castrate. I will give the pain med about half an hour before the procedure and will enlist the help of a good friend who can hold on really well to those boys. Really not a pleasant thing to do, but I’ll do it again.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I have not heard of kids needing pain meds afterwards or shaking. Did you clamp more than one time on each side? I’m just thinking about why it might have happened and thinking that your vet was worried about failure, I have heard of some people doing each side twice, which I have never done.

      Reply
  44. I have two 8 month old Nigerian Dwarfs that I want to do this to. I thought about banding or surgical castration but after some research and talking to others have been talked out of it. I’m worried about managing them(holding them still) while I do it so I don’t mess up. Is there something I can give them to calm them down for me to get it done. I know they will fight some, but if I can lessen that at all if would help.

    Reply
    • You have to have another person hold them while you do it. If you are worried that the person isn’t strong enough to hold the goat still, you could have a second person help hold the legs. Person one holds the goat sitting on his rump in their lap while person two holds both of the hind legs. When we did an adult LaMancha, my husband held him sitting on his rump like we do with the Nigerian kids, and he held the buck’s body and one of his hind legs, and we had another person help hold the other hind leg. There are no over-the-counter sedatives available for goats, but it’s really not that hard to do a Nigerian.

      Reply

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