because, you see, I'd hate for any of you to get bored.
Now back to the nutsacks. I could get all technical with you but that would require a few Google jumps to ensure my terminology was correct. Instead, since it is Sunday and a day of rest, I will speak in simple terms.
If you have followed me in the past you might recall we do not always castrate all our male pigs, but we do castrate most. Non-castrated males do produce excellent meat but that meat does have a stronger smell during the cooking process. Some of our customers and we ourselves do not mind the smell at all, but for those who do, we castrate.
We have learned that the younger the piglet the easier the procedure is for them. We try to get them castrated at 5-10 days. When I first tried to learn how to do it I found very little GOOD info on the topic with the exception of that written by Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm. The majority of information is written or video recorded by conventional or confinement pig farmers. Walter however, has had great success by breeding the smell out of his herd. A goal of ours which will take time.
Watching a few videos of mass castrations under dirty conditions done inhumanely, made me sick. I even ran across a video on You-Tube of eejit hired hands castrating a 200 pound plus boar. The procedure was barbaric. Watching these helped me understand what NOT to do. Yesterday we castrated 5 little ones and I took pics as I was able but I missed the key pasts since I wasn't able to cut and click simultaneously.
Next time I will have someone videotape me so maybe I can be of more help to a newbie out there. This is only my 6th time but having 25 years nurse experience certainly helped. No, cringing ones, I have never castrated humans, even though I have run across several in my life that I might have liked to, but I have used a scalpel many times so I was not a totally incision niave'.
First step, secure the mama pig. In the earlier castration events we thought an electric fence between us, the screeching piglets and the mama sow was enough barrier. HA ! OH man did we all run and jump wires that day as the angry mother hog ran us down like a locomotive going downhill the face of Mount Rushmore. Our 20 year old son Kyle helped us that day and lept no less than 10 feet straight up to get out of furious mama pigs way !
He has not helped us castrate pigs since that day.
Now. we lure mama into a very secure metal livestock trailer (with some milk soaked grain) and LOCK the doors behind her before we go near the little ones. With the larger mothers we have been known to weld the doors closed.
Step two is identification of male babies.
Cutting into female babies just makes for future enemies when they are old enough to have babies of their own. Testicles on piglets are very easy to see on youngsters.
Step 3 is taking babies FAR, FAAAR away from the ma. We like to carry them in a big bucket
Out of sight and hearing we take them into our machine shed. The fact that it is just another set of steel doors between us and the mother makes the job less stressful for all concerned. Now, gather your equipment. Iodine or Betadine (you'll need about 5 cc per piglet) scalpel with blade and some paper towels.
DO NOT try to save a few pennies by using the same blade for all your piglets. Using a new blade for each baby gives you a nice clean incision. If you reuse blades, the skin will tear instead of cut and you will be spreading dirt and bacteria from one baby into the open incision of another. In addition a good sharp blade is far less painful than a dull blade.
Then, one at a time, piglet is held securely by helper. Helper should be physically strong enough to hold four wriggly little limbs and emotionally strong enough to assist with a procedure which involves a little blood. TRUST is also a major factor. Not many husbands I know would hold a squirming object in their own lap while wife points a sharp instrument in that same direction.
Before making the first cut the area needs to be cleansed with a nice rub of Iodine. Splash it on in good amounts and rub well. Not only does it clean the area it also relaxes the piglet. Imagine that.
With a good clean work area...
These openings look large but keep in mind the piglet is small so incisions are less than one inch long each. After wards I squirt openings with large amts of Iodine and then return them to mommy. The best medicine of all. Piglets will be able to walk immediately, many RUN back to their mothers which always makes me wonder...do they have less pain or do they tolerate it differently than humans?
Watch for excessive bleeding, there will be some dribbling over the next hour, which is normal but if you see blood spurting out then you've nicked or cut an artery and you're going to have a dead piggie in a very short time if you don't call a vet. Apply direct and firm pressure to the bleeding site until the vet can get to you. and watch for those who are not active or not nursing. The incisions heal closed in about 3 days time.
PS. This is the only "alteration" we do to our piglets. We do not clip eye teeth, we do not cut tails, we do not even notch ears.
PSS Allana (7 yr old GK) wants me to tell all of you the testicles look like shrimp. The end.