Side Crusher by Premier One Review

Side Crusher vs Burdizzo

Since I receive a lot of questions about the Side Crusher, I asked the awesome folks at Premier 1 Supplies if they would send one to review three years ago, and they graciously agreed to do so. Other than receiving the Side Crusher, I received no additional compensation for this review.

And now, I’m ready to give my two cents on the Side Crusher. You see, I’m not a fan of people who do something once or twice and then write an article on it. Instead, I’ve used the Side Crusher for the past three years to see how I really feel about it.  

Why Use an Emasculator to Castrate Bucks

I decided to consider an emasculator after an uncomfortable visit to the vet for surgical castrations followed by a few years of banding goats. I had a vet castrate my first bucklings surgically because I’d read it was the most humane. But it turned out to be pretty gruesome.

In my second year raising goats, I switched to the banding method to castrate my bucklings, and it was stressful. You use a special tool to open up a tiny Cheerio-sized rubber band so that it will fit over the entire scrotum. Without blood flow, the scrotum and testicles die and fall off.

Although some goats handled banding quietly, that was not always the case. I’d feel horrible when some of the bucks would roll, scream, and isolate themselves from the herd after the procedure. In fact, banding can be a drawn-out ordeal because it can take weeks for the testicles to fall off. 

When I made the switch to the Burdizzo, I was pleasantly surprised at how quick the entire procedure was and how quickly the kids get back to life as usual. Yes, the initial act of clamping and crushing, seems stressful, but pain is limited to the moment of contact. After crushing the spermatic cords, my newly wethered babies may walk funny for a few minutes, but they are usually acting normal within 20 minutes or less. 

In addition to the fact that emasculators seem a bit more merciful, there’s also less risk for infection because it leaves the skin intact. No cutting and no blood means no risk of infection. When banding, on the other hand, it creates a wound at the site, even though you are not cutting anything. And open sores are a perfect hangout for tetanus or maggots. 

The Difference Between the Burdizzo vs. the Side Crusher

When I received the Side Crusher, I was quite pleased with the design. It was easy to hold, and for those with smaller hands, I’d imagine it’s easier to clamp than the Burdizzo. In fact, I can close the Side Crusher easily using just two fingers and my thumb. 

The main difference between the Burdizzo and the Side Crusher, however, is the size of the crushing area. The Side Crusher’s area is much smaller. Both the Burdizzo and the Side Crusher are meant to crush one spermatic cord at a time, but the Burdizzo could be used on a much larger goat or sheep than the Side Crusher. I have even used the Burdizzo to castrate an adult LaMancha buck.

The Side Crusher would not be suitable for castrating an adult buck due to its smaller size. In fact, although it works fine on two-month-old Nigerian dwarf kids, it was a little challenging when castrating two-month-old Katahdin lambs, which are considerably larger.

I can use the Side Crusher for both sides of the scrotum more gracefully than the Burdizzo. I’m able to approach the testicle from the side, rather than from the bottom of the scrotum. Although the Burdizzo is easy to use in my dominant hand, I have found it challenging when doing the opposite side of the scrotum. In fact, all of my Burdizzo failures were on the sheep or goat’s right side, which is on my left side when facing the animal, so I’m awkwardly crossing my forearms so I can hold the scrotum in my left hand while crushing with my right hand.

The Side Crusher, on the other hand, is easy to use in both dominant and non-dominant hands because it doesn’t require as much strength. Plus, it is designed so you can crush both spermatic cords by approaching the scrotum from the same side, if you prefer that to the awkward forearm crossing that is the only option when using the Burdizzo. Note that regardless of which one you use, you are still crushing only one cord at a time! 

What to Expect During the Procedure

If you’ve never used an emasculator to castrate your bucks, be prepared for quite a bit of screaming. But that goes for any method of castration. Sheep on the other hand live up to the cliche, “quiet as a sheep,” even when being castrated by any method.

When using the Side Crusher, there will be plenty of protesting, but as soon as you’re finished and the buck is back with the herd, normalcy resumes. In contrast, a newly banded buck might fuss for hours after banding.

Some worry about accidentally cutting an antsy buckling with a Burdizzo during the procedure, if a kid jumps or kicks when the tool is clamped. I have heard of this happening a couple of times. The edges of the crushing area of the Burdizzo are a little sharp. It’s not sharp like a knife, so it’s not going to cut you if you touch it, but I can see how a kid could wind up with a cut if they kicked when the tool was clamped down on the scrotum.

I don’t think it’s likely to happen when using a Side Crusher because it has rounded edges in the crushing area. In general, we’re good at restraining kids during castration—fortunately, we’ve never had an accident like that in all of our years of using the Burdizzo. 

What Happens After Using the Side Crusher

It’s normal to see some small indentations and bruising where the crusher did its job so don’t worry about those small marks. 

If the Side Crusher was successful, your buck’s testicles will stop growing and start to shrink. You’ll know if the Side Crusher worked by measuring the size of the testicle before you perform the procedure, then recheck in a couple of weeks, and if it has not grown you’re good to go. 

Bucklings at 3 months old
testicles of 5 months old bucklings

With that being said, the Side Crusher and Burdizzo both leave the testicles intact, meaning there will still be a bag with small non-functional testicles inside. This is completely normal, and if you use the Side Crusher later in a buckling life, the bag may appear larger than if castrated at around two months of age. 

The reason I bring this up is for the 4-H members. Some shows do not permit wethers castrated through emasculation because they cannot easily determine if the wether is actually castrated (even though you know for sure). 

The only thing I don’t like about using an emasculator is that when you sell goats, the buyer can get freaked out about the presence of a scrotum and testicles. Unfortunately there are even some vets who are not familiar with this type of castration and have told their clients that they had an intact buck even though the buck had testicles that were obviously MUCH smaller than an intact buck. 

For this reason, you really MUST educate buyers about this method of castration. Show them the size of the scrotum and explain that if the buckling had not been castrated, it would be growing really fast. I also point out that I have never had a failure on both sides, so the most obvious sign of failure would be one testicle growing much larger than the other one.

When it comes down to it, Burdizzo and the Side Crusher both make quick work of castrating bucks with little trauma, no blood, and zero risk of infection. In our 10+ years of using the Burdizzo, we have had only about five or six failures, and in the three years that I’ve been using the Side Crusher, we have had zero failures, so the efficacy of the two tools seems comparable.

Side Crusher vs Burdizzo

24 thoughts on “Side Crusher by Premier One Review”

  1. I have a side crusher in transit at the moment. Will see how that goes. First time castrating. Phew…

  2. I really have appreciated all the good information Deborah has so generously provided!

    As a dyed in the wool COWARD! I cannot inflict any known pain on animals – haven’t been able to all my life of 77 years! I have paid Vets to castrate bucks and was quite surprised and disappointed with an “older” vet who removed the testicles, bag and all, and sewed up a large wound! a Mobile Vet, lady, by the way, just made an incision and removed testicles, leaving the open bag to heal with topical antibiotic. All bucklings were “asleep” when the procedure was done. Although I’ve had milk goats for 8 years, so far, I have not had many bucklings to have to deal with. Now, after three years of absolute horrible results / loss of four does and the kids of three pregnancies, I probably will have to “think Long and Hard about it” before deciding about castrating anyone!

    At this time, I am “getting to” feed three darling “orphans”, a little doe who seems to be suffering from a Selenium deficiency while the two brothers did not. The only saving grace of their mother’s suffering (from “Vets” who did not want to “be too aggressive” to induce labor.) was, I had to take her on an emergency trip 50 miles from my home to an excellent Vet and his staff, who performed a C-section after pumping her with antibiotics, etc. all night. The babies were born, got their mother’s colostrum, and then she died the next day!
    As of today, the three kids, from a Saanen mother and LaMancha father, are 3 weeks old and the little girl weighs @ 9 pounds while her brothers weigh 13 & 15 pounds! Baby girl shows signs, of Selenium deficiency/white muscle decline, etc., and boys do not. I’m “busy” learning about this very important issue!
    And by GOD’S Grace, I also have the young mother’s mother and she is taking the babies “under her watchful care”. They are staying in the house with me at night – for night and early a.m. feedings and then go outside with Granma Angel for morning and later afternoon play time, when it is not too hot.

  3. We’ve only ever used a burdizzo or side crusher to castrate. I much prefer the side crusher as it’s so easy to open and close and easier to access the testicles with. So far, no failures. As a vet tech and living in Florida, I appreciate there is no open wounds to worry about flies or tetanus and the fact that the goats do seem to recover much faster. This is the only way we will ever castrate. Thanks for educating people on this method. I’ve sent tons of people to your video on how to do it!

  4. I am SO happy you wrote about this important subject! I have only heard horrific stories with people who used the Burdizzo…never heard of the Side Crusher but i really like the design better and can see what you mean by the larger surface area and how it looks easier for a woman to use. Thank you dor this very valuable information!!

  5. I have been procrastinating in doing this for a while now. I have been so conflicted on which method is best. We rescued a buck who appears to be Pygmy/ND and we are unsure of his age and have heard conflicting information on when is this best time to do any procedure. But I do know our does are still to young to breed (born February 2022) and because of this we have obviously kept them separate and I have scoured the internet in search of sound information. So far your info has given me the most peace of mind and reassurance, like I can actually do this! Please pray for me, I’ll be ordering most likely the Bordizzo since our buck is a bit on the bigger side. I got this!

  6. My adult daughter has to used the budizzo to castrate our Tunis ram at 5 mos of sge. His left side worked, not ghe right. We tried again at 8 mos using 3 people. We did feel a ” scrunch” but after 2.5 mos, the testicle seems the same size. The cord seems quite thick and it was hard to keep the cord from popping out of the clamp because it does seem pretty thick , which is why we used 3 people( 1 to hold ram on his butt, 1 to use the burdizzo and one to try and hold the cord from squishing out of the clamp). He is now 11 mos old and so sweet. I want to keep him as a pet but I do have him in with a pregnant ewe. Another thing is that his overall growth does seem stunted as he is smaller than my ewe. Is there a blood test to know if possibly he is whethered? Or do you have any suggestions? TIA.

    • Unless you took pictures, you may not realize that the testicle has shrunk. Until I was taking pictures to share with students, I didn’t realize how much and how fast they shrunk. Do you have an adult ram to compare his testicle to? As adult ram testicle would be huge — hanging down to his hock. You can easily see them when a ram is walking away from you.

      I’ve never heard of a blood test to see if a sheep was wethered, and unfortunately most vets know so little about Burdizzo castration that I’ve heard of more than a few who will tell you that they’re not castrated if there is even a tiny testicle there (which is not true).

      I would suggest measuring his scrotum and then measure again in a month. Measure the length and the circumference. At this age, I’m not sure how much change you’ll see, but you should see some kind of change. Any growth would indicate the testicle is not “dead.” If it gets smaller, then he is definitely castrated. I doubt it would be the same size, but if it is, I’d measure again in a month. And I would be inclined to think that he is castrated if it simply does not grow, but I haven’t actually measured scrotums on sheep at that age. I know they grow insanely fast the first 6 months for sheep and goats that are intact.

  7. I have about a 60% failure rate with the Burdizzo. I think it is because I have to use 2 hands to close it due to arthritis. I really want to get the side crusher and try that, but unfortunately it is back ordered until at least the end of June. Seems like it might be a good solution for these old hands.

    • The side crusher is soooo much easier to use!
      Hopefully it is back in stock soon so you can try it out.
      Best of Luck

  8. Hi. Thanks for this article. It helps. I’m going to be getting three male lambs. Right now they’re about nine months old and have not been banded. I’m not so familiar with sheep anatomy, and wonder if I can find the cord, but my vet won’t do the burdizzo, so I may have to. Caprine Supply sells a small one they say is for lambs up to six months. I just want to make sure it’s done before they start getting rammish. Do you know what the age range is for that?

    • I just checked their website, and it’s the same Burdizzo I have, and I’ve used it to castrate a 3-year-old LaMancha buck, so I don’t know why they’d say it’s only for sheep up to six months of age. The crushing space on the Burdizzo is much larger than the diameter of the cord. Finding the cord is as easy as finding a drinking straw in a plastic bag. It’s very obvious. If you can find the testicles, you can find the cord. The only thing about sheep that can make them a little trickier as they get old is if they have wool on their scrotum, which would cushion the crushing action of the Burdizzo. That was responsible for my three ram failures one year. So, if they have wool growing where you feel the cord, I’d use dog clippers to shave it off.

  9. In my short time as a breeder, I’ve had way more trauma using bands than castration via cutting. We even had a kid BLEED TO DEATH after being banded because a blood vessel ruptured after the band was put on. Right now I cut my own boys because I’ve been doing this for years on cattle, but a side crusher has been on my wish list for two years. I don’t understand the cost difference between a side crusher ($100+) vs burdizzo ($30-$40) though. The cost has been the prohibiting factor as a disposable scalpel is very cheap. I don’t castrate via cutting until AFTER they’ve had their CDT vaccine either, and my boys have maybe one day of being uncomfortable before they are back to normal vs DAYS of being uncomfortable with a band. I know of another breeder who refuses to band as well after a buck kid eviscerated and lost his intestines through the hole banding left once the testicles fell off. I’ve never really understood why this method (banding) is considered more humane other than it is “bloodless.”

    My mentor has a burdizzo, and I think her hands are losing strength as she is experiencing more failures with it as well. I know mine are, which is why I’m not even getting one.


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