Delayed castration threatens health and performance

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The opportunity to capitalize on the performance potential of intact bull calves, plus perhaps, the temptation of leaving a difficult chore for someone else to do, leads some producers to delay castration on their male calves. Delayed castration takes advantage of natural testosterone production, resulting average gain advantages averaging about 16 percent over non-implanted steer calves.

Research data, however, and other industry issues such as animal welfare and value-based marketing, suggest that early castration is best in the long run. The reasons include the increased stress associated with later castration performed on larger animals, potential reduction in quality grades and price discounts on bull calves.

Research data from Kansas State University and Oklahoma State University indicates that delayed castration, either by cutting or banding, reduces average daily gains and increases sickness and medical costs during the receiving period at the feedyard.
Studies show however, that producers can obtain similar pre-weaning performance by implanting steer calves as they would with intact bulls. Three years of data from the University of Wisconsin revealed nearly identical performance for implanted steer calves and bull calves on grass.

Effect of delayed castration and castration technique on receiving period performance and morbidity.

Steers Cut Bulls Banded Bulls
KSU, 1992
ADG, lb/day 1.851.631.47 b
Medication days/head 5.86.9 7.1
KSU, 1992
ADG, lb/day 2.051.781.58 b
Medication days/head .35 1.452.20
Drug cost/head$10.43$12.37$12.52
OSU, 2001
ADG, lb/day 1.991.671.92
% treated at least 1 time 34.937.842.4
OSU, 2001
ADG, lb/day 2.351.77 b
% treated at least 1 time 33.3 59.3

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