There is a large body of literature that has examined the impacts of castration and tailing on lamb behaviour, stress response, pain and productivity (Fisher et al. 2010; Kent et al. 1993; Mellor et al. 2002; Mellor & Stafford 2000). Recently, Kerslake et al. (2015) investigated lamb tail docking, residual tail length and the reasons behind farmers’ choice to dock. There is little information available, however, regarding castration methods and reasons for the choice of leaving lambs entire, castrated or short-scrotumed. A printed questionnaire was distributed to ~12,000 farmers on the Beef + Lamb New Zealand database. The questionnaire contained 30 questions on aspects of management of flystrike, louse control, tailing and castration. Information was sought regarding percentage of lambs tail docked, method used to remove tails, reason for the tailing decision, proportions of male lambs left entire or castrated or short scrotumed, the method used to castrate or short-scrotum, and the reason for choice of male lamb type. A total of 1253 (10%) of questionnaires were returned. Of the farmers that responded, the most commonly used tailing method was a hot iron (61%), followed by rubber rings (31.4%). Lamb growth was the primary reason that farmers gave for leaving lambs entire, and to a lesser degree short-scrotum. The reason behind the decision to castrate was most commonly related to lamb behaviour, however, a number of reasons had similar frequencies (lambs stay cleaner, infertility and meat quality).
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 78, Lincoln, 96-99, 2018
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