April 28th, 2008
Now for our long awaited How To Castrate a Piglet tutorial! Our sensitive readers may wish to skip this post if they feel a bit sensitive when encountering surgical procedures. It does include detailed photographs.
Castrating your own piglets is a necessary chore to do if you are keeping sows for breeding, and raising piglets. Someone will need to castrate the little male piglets (called barrows) unless you are saving them to sell as breeding stock. If they are to be sold as weaner pigs, or to be fed out into butcher hogs, they will need to be castrated. Yes, you can hire a vet to perform this service, but when last I checked the price for castrating two pigs (granted these were large weaner pigs that my in-laws had put off castrating themselves) the vet quoted them $150.00 for the two. My dear husband, Larry castrated them instead with the help of my in-laws (and he did need help, castrating a large pig is very difficult, they are quite strong and need to be carefully restrained).
However, if you castrate your piglets when they are 8 – 14 days old the operation can easily be performed by two people, some can even perform it by themselves if they are particularly talented, and it only requires a matter of minutes to complete. My husband Larry has now castrated a few batches of piglets, and some larger pigs as well, so he will be starring in this tutorial in the photographs along with my father-in-law, Keith. Keith is holding, and Larry is cutting, thanks for letting me take pictures! It was a bit difficult to get good photos of some of the detailed work, as there were 4 adults and my two small children in a smallish area.
Please note that we aren’t vets, and cannot take any liability for the outcome of your own castration of your piglets. This information is provided for educational purposes only.
So, here we go!
- Remove the piglet to be castrated from its mother. Depending upon the breed of pig the mother may display varying signs of distress, and possibly hostility upon having surgical procedures performed to her off-spring, so it is best to be well away from her. We have kept Berkshires, and so do our in-laws, their mothers seem midly concerned, will come take a look, and do some querying snorting from the other side of the fence, but we haven’t had any problems so far.
- Have your helper restrain the piglet in the position show in the photograph. Apply iodine to sterilize the area. Prepare a sharp, sterile cutting instrumet – scalpels with disposable blades can be picked up at the vet supply, local farm store, rural co-ops etc.
- Squeeze the testes sac so that the testicles are snug up against the outer skin of the sac.
- Make a vertical incision with the sterile scalpel on one of the sides of the sac, down low for drainage purposes. When the piglet is held in this position, the slit should be made high on the testes sac so that when the piglet is placed on the ground it down low, and well situated for drainage of the sac. Depending upon the age of the pig you may need to cut down further into the testes sac depending upon the amount of fat between the skin and the testicle. You’ll have to figure this out as you go.
- Cut down into the teste to be removed, and squeeze the testes sac until the testicle ‘pops’ out of the sac. You may need to enlarge your incision slightly to facilitate this removal.
- Once the testicle is outside of the bag, draw it away from the body with one hand. Cut the white spermatic cord with the scalpel, then continue pulling the testicle until the red blood cord snaps off. This will result in the least amount of bleeding for the piglet. Larry has the testicle in his hand in this photo and is preparing to cut the white cord with the scalpel.
- This should be your end result. If you have everything out that is pictured in the below photo, your job is done for that side.
- Now you are done the first side, repeat procedures 3 – 6 on the other side.
- Spray the piglet well with a disinfecting agent, we use iodine, and my in-laws like to apply some colloidal silver as well.
- Place the piglet back in the pen with his mother (he is now referred to as a wether), he will run to her for some tender Momma love and comfort, and will hardly act like anything happed at all. This is a very quick and humane method of castration, hardly seems to fizz the little fellows!
I hope you find this helpful in your own homesteading efforts! This basic technique works well for other animals as well, though with older pigs, and different breeds of animals you may need to cut the blood cord depending upon the age and stage of development of that animal. In that case, pull it out as far as you can before cutting it, so that it will retract back into the body. The method of restraint will vary according to the animal breed and age as well. We have successfully castrated tomcats and bull calves using variations of this method.