Before you get the rings out to castrate your lambs this spring, decide if it’s a wise move to turn them into wethers. Ram lambs grow fast so if you sell them to the meat works early, leave the entire.
This is as long as you get rid of them before they start to erupt their first pair of incisors. Then they are no longer a "lamb" as defined by the meat industry. They are "hoggets" as far as farm terminology goes. Our meat markets overseas don’t like the word hogget. And we all know that it tastes better than young lamb anyway.
The only problem you may have with all these ram lambs around is to forget – and when it comes to autumn, one of these lads does the deed that you had saved up for your expensive stud ram. And they will serve ewes with the greatest of pleasure.
There is an alternative – that is to make them into Cryptorchids. These have nothing to do with flowers! Here at docking, instead of putting the ring ABOVE the testicles sitting in the scrotum, you push the testicles back up the body cavity and put the ring on BELOW them to constrict the empty scrotum. They look like rams in very tight underpants!
Now beware. The theory says that if testicles are housed close to the abdomen in the body cavity, they’ll be warmer and hence the sperm will be sterile. That’s true most of the time, but nature works in wondrous ways and some of these young lads will fool you and beget lambs. So again get rid of them before autumn.
Castration, or shortening the scrotum, is painful to lambs and it is recommended best practice to use pain relief. It is less stressful for lambs for castration or scrotum shortening to take place when they are a couple of weeks old; if you do it too early, the handling and pain from the procedure may impact the lamb’s ability to drink colostrum or impair the bond between the lamb and the ewe. If you decide to castrate or shorten the scrotum of older lambs, be aware that is prohibited to carry these procedures out on lambs over six months of age without the use of local anaesthetic. If you use a high tension band (a latex band mechanically tightened to a high tension) instead of rubber rings, you must use pain relief at any age. Refer to the Painful Husbandry Procedures Code of Welfare at www.mpi.govt.nz/codes-of-welfare.