Cow-calf producers are faced with the decision whether to castrate from birth to a couple months of age, or to wait and band males at weaning. Banding advocates say if you wait to band the bull calf until he is weaned, he will benefit from added hormone production and extra growth. But there are several points to consider before you leave your bull calves intact, says Eldon Cole, livestock specialist for University of Missouri Outreach and Extension:

  • Depending on the supply, bull calves are
    discounted around $3 per hundred when sold as feeders.
  • Bull calves can be a nuisance in the pasture chasing cows in heat and possibly even breeding cows and heifer calves.
  • You must give a tetanus vaccination at the time of banding.
  • If you castrate at a young age, around 2 months or less, you can recoup part of your growth loss by implanting a growth promotant.

Bob Larson, DVM on the University's Beef Focus Team likes the banders for castrating older bulls. However, he says he always considered it a way to deal with a management mistake rather than a better way to manage calves. Mr. Cole is also concerned about tenderness and eating quality of beef from late castrates. He says that research indicates that beef from intact bulls and late castrates is more variable in tenderness and the percentage of Choice or better carcasses is lower.