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Effect of method and timing of castration on newly arrived stocker cattle

Ratcliff, M.D., Kegley, E.B., Powell, J.G., Hawley, J., Lusby, K.S., Rowe, M.P., Gunter, S.A., Daniels, L.B., Hubbell, D.S.
The The professional animal scientist 2014 v.30 no.4 pp. 457-465
antibiotics, bulls, calves, castration, drug therapy, growth performance, liveweight gain, morbidity, steers, stocker cattle, temporal variation
To determine the effects of castration method and timing on performance and morbidity of newly arrived beef stocker cattle, 271 crossbred calves (184 bulls, 87 steers; 210±14.7kg) were purchased at livestock markets in 3 groups (replicated trials). Upon arrival calves were weighed and, within arrival group, were assigned randomly to 1 of 8 pens. Within pens, calves were assigned to 1 of 5 treatment groups consisting of (1) calves that arrived as steers; calves that arrived as bulls and were castrated surgically on (2) d 0 or (3) 14; and calves that arrived as bulls and were castrated utilizing a bander on (4) d 0 or (5) 14. The following day, calves were processed and designated bull calves were castrated. On d 14, remaining bull calves were castrated.Calves surgically castrated on d 0 had the greatest ADG, with those surgically castrated on d 14 and band-castrated at d 0 gained the least for the 50-, 53-, or 43-d trial (trials 1, 2, and 3, respectively; method×castration day interaction, P<0.01). Steers had (P<0.0001) greater ADG over the course of the study compared with calves that arrived as bulls. No differences in the percentage of bulls treated once or thrice with antibiotic were observed; however, a tendency (P=0.06) for fewer bulls castrated on d 14 versus 0 to be treated twice was noted. Fewer (P<0.01) steers were treated with antibiotics than bulls. This study indicated that method and timing of castration affected growth performance, and if calves were castrated before arrival ADG was improved and morbidity reduced.