Okay, so I will honestly admit that I DID forget the Q&A Monday post... Please forgive me! What a week this has been... Spinning lessons everywhere I turn! Not that that's a bad thing, but after a few days your head does get a bit woolly from it all. LOL.
So here is the Monday post being done on Tuesday!
Q: What are your views and experience on castrating and preventing urinary calculi in wethered males?
Thanks for Q and A days!
Heather in PA
A: Oooh, fun topic. ;) Bear with me, non-goaty readers! Castrating wethers can bring up a lot of different opinions in a group of goat people. Some folks swear by the emasculator, others only use the elastrator, a few have it done surgically by a vet, and some do it by hand by cutting the tip of the sac and manually removing the testicles. Personally, I really like the elastrator. It's easy, relatively painless, affordable, and usually does a good job. The elastrator simply puts a green, rubber 'cheerio' at the base of the scrotum, as close to the body as possible. The emasculator probably works just as well, but I've heard too many stories about livestock that were still "half nutted" since the emasculator didn't do its crushing job well enough. Having the vet might work, but it really does get expensive when you have a "buckling year" during kidding season. That, and the fact that very, very few vets know how to treat goats (many won't even see them) makes me shy away from using one. As for the "tipping" job that I mentioned last, well, it works. Let's just say that I really like that green cheerio, since it means I don't have to do too much hands on work. I mean, sheesh, those little goats are already squirmy! I like to do the job as fast as I can and then give them back to mama goat.
But the elastrator isn't perfect. There is a higher risk of infection with this, since the band cuts off all blood circulation until the entire thing withers and falls off. I like to put two bands on my bucklings since it makes the whole process a bit more comfortable for them, and it has a better grip that way. You DO have to be extremely careful when putting two on, so that no skin is pinched between which could invite an infection. I always spray the area once a day with iodine to help keep it clean and sanitary. I'm not sure how many bucklings I've banded now, but I do know that in all the years I've done it, I've only had one mishap. Last year I had a pretty little buckling who I set out to wether, but unbeknownst to me, one of the testicles hadn't dropped. So on went the band, and weeks later when the ordeal should have been over, I found a mess. The banded testicle, and the sac were withered and ready to fall off, but were kept in place by the other testicle which was still very muchly intact. Infection was beginning to set in, the kid was beginning to become lethargic, and I had absolutely no idea what to do. I called my nearby livestock vet, but they refused to treat a goat. The only advice I got from them was to sterilize some really sharp scissors or shears, cut the entire scrotum off, wash it with iodine every day until it healed, and give him some probiotics. With no other available option at the time, that's exactly what I did. I washed up my shears well enough to eat off them, and with one swift clip, my buckling became a wether. He healed up beautifully after that, and I learned my lesson: always, always, always double check that both testicles are descended before releasing the tension on the band.
I've heard that there is a new "elastrator" on the market that was designed specifically with goats in mind. It's called the 'WEE' Bander and is said to be the most humane method of castration due the the bands being much smaller and tighter than the green ones. I've looked at these online, and someday I would like to try it out and see if I like it better than the elastrator, but it *is* more expensive than the plain ol' elastrator, so I may have to wait until next kidding season before investing in it.
I typically castrate my bucklings when they are 2-3 weeks old, but I have waited as long as 8 weeks when watching a kid mature and deciding if he should remain intact or not. Twelve weeks is considered by most the absolute latest you can castrate, since by then it's pretty hard to get the elastrator around the scrotum.
And concerning a prevention of urinary calculi in wethers, I really like using apple cider vinegar! I put about a 1/2 cup of vinegar to every 2.5--3 gallons of water, and it keeps their pH balanced enough to prevent the build up of the calculi. Keeping alfalfa hay away from them also helps. :)
Oh Nancy! You asked a question too! You were wondering when Peaches would start giving milk. :) I could have answered that in the comments section, but never got around to it... [sigh] But Peaches will be bred when she is 13 to 15 months old (she's almost 6 months right now), and a cow's gestation is 9 months long. So she'll be about 21 to 23 months when she *finally* starts milking! Oh dearie me... That's a long time to wait!
I think from now on, I will start posting the "ask your questions" post on Fridays instead of Wednesdays, so don't be alarmed if you don't see it tomorrow! I'll try not to forget it this week! ;)