Sunday, November 26, 2006

How to Castrate a Bull

This blog entry, much called for by my entire readership of six or seven, is entirely out of date, but I've just gotten the photos, so now seems an ok time to post it. This blog entry is also not for the faint of heart. Feel free to turn back now. No, really. You read the heading, right? Turn back.

BrandingInMontana

The first rule of bull castration is probably to do it at the correct time; the calf shouldn't be too old or too young, and that depends a bit on the breed. That sounds like it ought to be the first rule, right?

But, for our purposes, the first rule of bull castration is to get somebody else to do it. You want your biggest part in the actual castration process to be deciding which side of the bull to stand on, the squeamish side or the, ummmm...... other side....

The bull is, at this point laying on its side. You could, perhaps, help out as it runs through the chute, catching it at the exit and cinching it down, then flipping the chute 90 degrees, so the young bull lays on its side, its neck caught in a mechanism that resembles nothing so much as a huge pair of chopsticks. The bull's torso is held in place -- at least as much as possible -- under a steel frame across its rib cage. Then a large fellow, let's call him Greg, holds one of the calf's rear legs in place with his foot, and uses both hands to hold the calf's other leg still.

This is the moment for that decision I told you about. You can either stand on the west side, looking at the bull's back, or on the east side, so you can look at the belly of the bull. The west side is a logical choice. You probably are already standing here, having just branded the calf's right rear hip with the "V 7 quarter circle" brand. (You had to apply the brand upside down because of the calf's position, making the brand look more like the "sun rises over LA" brand, which is somehow simultaneously amusing and horrifying.) So you are already here, on the west side, sliding the three branding irons back under the blow torch, looking at the unhappy calf's tongue lolling about as it drools miserably. There really isn't any reason to walk around to the east side, where....

What? You walked around to the east side? Oh... well... ok. Sure. The east side. Yeah. Good choice....

The first step here is to take the scalpel out of the little tub of red iodine. It is important to keep everything clean to avoid infection. Then you just lean over and slice off the bottom of scrotum. A young bull is already a bit of a hairy animal, so you can just grab a hold of a bit of hair as you cut away, and then toss that bit of hairy scrotum away when you are done. Don't worry. A dog will probably trot over to eat it.

Then, and I'm going to admit this defies all sense and expectation, you can put the scalpel away. You don't need it anymore. Instead you just tuck a couple fingers and your thumb through the new hole in the scrotum, grasp the testicles, and just pull them out. They come out easily, but remain attaching through the stretchy tubes that attach them too the pulls body. The tubes stretch and stretch, like you are pulling taffy. Eventually they'll snap, after a couple of feet, and then they ends will dangle, like strands of cheese hanging from a slice freshly pulled from a hot pile. YOu can grab all of this dangling sinew with your other hand and loop it up into the hand with the testicles, and then toss all of this into a coffee can. A coffee can full of testicles, of course, which surely someone will want to take home for the fryer.

And, expectation aside again, you are done. No need to stitch anything up. You cut a pretty small hole in the scrotum that won't bleed much and will heal on its own, and you have yanked (stretched?) out anything that might have fallen out on its own. So just go back to the west side, pop that calf back up onto its legs and send it on its way. I'm willing to guess that it is happy to go....

I warned you, didn't I?

5 Comments:

Anonymous little_bowtie said...

Wow. My Dad did it with a big rubber band, I thought...put it on fairly early...and then left it on there until the whole shebang just shriveled off.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not an expert, but I believe that the rubber band method, which is popular although by no means universally used because it isn't 100% effective, is technically elastration rather than castration.

4:27 PM  
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