Banding a goat is a very common practice and will help prevent unwanted additions to your herd and can also offer health benefits such as stopping the male goat developing urinary stones. But just when should you band a goat? Here’s the answer, plus all you need to know about goat banding…
When is it too late to band a goat? The ideal time to band a goat is between the ages of 8 to 10 weeks of age. At this age it offers the safest and gentlest method of castration, and hopefully the least stress and pain given the goat’s young age.
In this article that follows, I’ve looked to find scientific studies that talk about pain, and how old should a goat be when you band them. I am not naïve enough to think that banding a baby goat won’t hurt – they must be a degree of discomfort.
Because of that, I will attempt to deal with just the facts here on banding baby goats.
Whilst banding does not shed any blood, there is controversy about it with some suggesting it should never be done – bottom line is that it must be painful for a baby goat be castrated, not matter what their age.
For full disclosure, I do not own goats, and have never banded a baby goat – this content is purely a synopsis of research I’ve done. I hope it helps, and you appreciate that position.
How late can you band a goat?
Professional keepers of goats tend to agree that once a baby goat reaches 2 and a half months of age or more, it could be too late to band them. Their position tends to be that you can band a baby goat in the 8 to 10 weeks age window.
To quote the iamcountryside.com website directly, they say:
Having banded numerous kids and lambs, we know that banding a younger animal is far less stressful and painful, particularly if the buckling is not yet weaned and can find comfort from his dam. We prefer to band at eight to 10 weeks, to allow for maximum development. Ideally, at this age, both testes will fit snugly through the band. When this is the case, most feel very little discomfort.
They also go on to explain that some baby goats of this age will have developed quicker than others. Because of that, each goat should be considered as an individual.
This means that it could be too late to band a baby goat at 10 weeks if they have a more advanced testicular growth. Ideally you want to band both testicles at once, but if they are too big to do that, and you need to band singularly, this could be too late and be painful.
The reason being, if you band on large testicle, it can constrict the baby goat’s scrotum and be painful to them.
The website also explains how you can band a baby goat too early, rather than too late.
If banded too early, there is a risk of a testicle slipping above the band or not enough tissue to create pressure to fully restrict the flow of blood. This can slow the process or result in complications.
How much does it cost to neuter a goat?
Whilst many goat owners will band a goat themselves by using an elastrator (view on Amazon), you can also get a professional veterinarian to complete the procedure. To be honest, if it were me, I would recommend this route, as they can anaesthetise the animal to reduce any pain.
If you were band a baby goat yourself, it will cost you possibly between $15 and $20 once you have purchased the right elastrator tool shown above.
The veterinary route might cost you between $20 and $50 for each goat, depending on where you live and what arrangement you have with a vet.
What does banding a goat do?
Obviously, you know what the basics are on banding goats, but I just wanted to go into a little more detail. It might help highlight the pain the goat might be in and could change your mind, or make you want to proceed.
Banding a goat is how you castrate a goat. Typically banding is done by using an elastrator and should take place when the goat is between 8 and 10 weeks old, no later.
How does banding a goat work?
Using the elastrator tool, the farmer or breeder can pop a thick rubber band over the baby goat’s scrotum and above the testicles. The band will then stop blood flowing to the testicles to stop them from growing.
As a result of banding, the baby goat’s testicles will then dry and shrivel up, before dropping off.
What are the benefits of castrating a goat?
Goats have been banded for hundreds, possibly even thousands of years. There are several stated benefits to castrating goats, all of which I’ve found from farming forums and some studies.
- Castrated goats are said to offer better quality meat than non-banded goats.
- Castrated goats will grow faster.
- Castrated goats are less aggressive and more docile.
- Castrated goats do not smell as much.
- Castrated goats will still mount females, making them good “heat” detectors for breeders.
How do you band a goat safely?
I do believe goats will feel pain when banded, but I appreciate it’s a matter that will continue to be practised. Here’s how it’s done.
As discussed, it’s important to not leave it too late to band the goat – I recommend the right age for banding to be between 8 and 10 weeks old.
Don’t do it before this date either, as banding should not be done too young. If you try to band a goat too young, it could develop urinary calculi, which can be fatal.
Urinary calculi is a condition where the goat develops stones similar to kidney stones in a human. If the stones don’t get taken out, then the goat’s bladder will eventually rupture, causing its death.
Goats become fertile at about 8 weeks old, so the banding should take place when the goat is between 8 and 10 weeks old. After that, banding the goat is said to be more painful.
Whilst it’s true that you can band a goat at any age, but it will probably cause longer recovery and the process might not be successful, which means that you would have to castrate your goat using surgical means.
Below are a few steps explaining the process of banding.
How to castrate a baby goat
- The process takes two people. You should have someone helping you with this process as it takes two sets of hands. One person should be keeping the goat in check and upright, while the other person handles the elastrator.
- Place the elastic band on the elastrator. Please keep in mind that the band should be a thick rubber band. Squeezing the elastrator will stretch the band.
- Place the band on the scrotum, over the testes, making sure that you don’t catch the teats or other parts of the skin.
- Release the band and make sure that both testes are below the band. If the band isn’t properly aligned, just cut off the band, and redo the procedure.
There are a few things to consider after you band your baby goat.
Most importantly is the result. After banding the goat,the scrotum and testicles should fall off in about two weeks. During that time, check for no infections, keep the area clean and dry, and use an antiseptic or tropical ointment if necessary.
If the testicles have not fallen off completely, you may need to finish cutting them off using a clean, sharp scalpel or knife, as there is usually only a little tissue still remaining.
Furthermore, you should make sure that the goat was given a CD/T shot before you band it, or you inject it with tetanus antitoxin. This will ensure that your goat does not get tetanus.
Handy Hint: If you don’t band your goat you might end up having more goat babies on your hands that you anticipated!
Does banding a goat hurt them?
I also promised to look at science and research about whether castrating goats is painful. I believe that it is, but I also appreciate it could be less stressful to band a baby goat at a younger age, rather than when they are older.
One piece of interesting research I found was published by Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). Their summary explained that banding a goat can hurt them:
The CVMA recommends that when castration of cattle, sheep, or goats is required, an appropriate technique with anesthesia and analgesia is used and that it is undertaken at a young age. All methods of castration cause acute and chronic pain. This can be mitigated by the use of local anesthesia and an appropriate non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Not only do they believe that castrating a goat will be painful, but they also recommend that if banding does take place, the right age to band a goat will be when they are younger as I suggested.
My personal position is that banding baby goats must be painful, but I also appreciate it’s something that will continue to be practised. That’s why I wanted to write this guide, but just include the facts on when banding is too late, and the potential pain of castration.
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Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/baby-goats-goat-small-cute-cute-3545054/