By Dr Clive Dalton
Castrating lambs with rubber rings
Using rubber rings is the best way to castrate lambs in both large and small flocks. It is bloodless and research has shown that the intense pain only lasts a short time. Lambs should be castrated using rings before they are 6 weeks old - the younger the better.
The main concern is to make sure the ring is placed in the correct position, so the ram will become a proper wether.
If the testicles are missed, then the lamb will be a 'cryptorchid' where one or both testicles can be felt under the skin along the belly, or squeezed back up into the body cavity. These sheep are usually infertile, but there is always the risk of an odd animal being an effective ram.
Cryptorchids grow faster than wethers due to the testosterone produced by the testicles.
The procedure must be done so that the scrotum, along with both testicles, is captured when the ring is released. The ring must be above scrotum and testicles, and below the rudimentary teats.
1. Get an assistant to catch the lamb and sit it on its rear end on a board or rail at standing height.
2. Grab the end of the scrotum and pull it through the open ring.
3. With the ring fully open and resting on the lamb's body, use your fingers and thumb to locate the testicles and press down to squeeze them through the ring. Hold them there and release the ring.
4. Before flicking the pliers off the ring, make sure there are two testicles now in the scrotum.
5. Double check - testicles in - teats out!