Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Castration Illustration

And now for something totally promised. Several months ago I did a post on castration of piglets. It was OK but not as good as I wanted.  Yes, only I would feel unsatisfied with castration instructions. Be grateful you are not married to me.

And just WHY do I want a "good" castration post? Because it is needed. Other homesteaders who buy piglets from us often ask about the procedure and with more folks going into the "raise your own business" without any previous farming experience, I thought it would be helpful to show and tell.

Caution, following pics are graphic.

Materials needed. Castration kit , I prefer the one with curved blades. Available at any farm supply store. Large 60 cc syringe filled with Iodine solution. Paper towels. A strong helper. An even stronger stomach. Carry all your supplies in a five gallon bucket which you will use as a seat.


Timing. Castrating piglets around one week of age works best. It can be done later but the longer you wait the bigger the pig gets, the harder he is to hold, the bigger the cut, the longer the recovery time, the greater the chance of get the picture.


Degrees of separation. Mamma pigs are unpredictable. It is their job to protect their babies. It is our job to protect ourselves. So we load mama into our very secure livestock trailer (With a treat of course) and move her to another part of the farm so she can't hear babies calling 911.


Isolation. Secure your piglets into a small working area. We use straw bales to build a small fort to contain them. Then spread out more clean bedding for the newly castrated males to return to.

Identification. Boys have balls and girls do not. Yes, at age 54 I know these important things. That is why they call me YaYa. Very easy bulges to see on young piglets. Many can be seen from a glance at their backside, or catch them and turn them over. Release the girls out of the holding pen and head them toward the clean bedding. Keep the boys in their little fort.

Lottery time. Some of our piglets draw straws. The weathiest ones will flip coins. While they are doing that we reach in the group and grab. Have your helper sit on the overturned bucket with piglet in his/her lap.

Wash the area well with Iodine solution (ours is 1%) You want to remove any debri from this area because when you cut the skin any bacteria on it gets pushed inside the little piglet. The rubbing of the iodine over this area is as you can imagine, very enjoyable for the little guy. Sort of the calm before the storm...
Positioning. Place the piglet in helpers lap, belly up and his lower regions towards the floor. Gravity is your friend here, helping to pull little testicles downwards. When they are small the helper can use his right hand to hold piglets right limbs and his left hand to hold piglets left limbs. The helper is then holding the piglet between his slightly open legs. You can see the cause for extreme caution here, can you not? Oh , and don't forget the trust factor. I trust Keith to hold still. He trusts me to keep my scapel on the smaller male mammal in the barn.

You will make two incisions on either side of the midline directly over the bulging testicle. Don't worry about going too deep since the testicle will be of new use anyway but try to make the length of your incision no more than an inch. This will be plenty of room to push on either side of the cut and pop the little testicle into view.
You will then pull the testicle away from the body and cut the small blood vessel  and white connective tissue. Some piglets will scream and squirm. Some will be still. Most do yell briefly.
You can see above the location of both incisions as well as the blood vessel and connective tissue you will cut free. I am holding the testicle between my thumb and finger.  Immediately after I flood the open areas with more Iodine and we let the piglet down so he can find his mates.
Yes, they do walk a little sorely but they will be running in a very short time. Make sure you get a NEW CLEAN STERILE blade before you go to the next piglet. Using a dirty blade is a great way to spread infection and dull blades HURT. Once all piglets are done and you've cleaned up your area we return the mama to her babies. Nursing is essential as it is both comforting and releases endorphins in the piglets which helps with pain control and healing.
Be sure to check piglets in an hour or so and make sure none are having bleeding issue. In the 5 years I've been doing this we've never had an issue and no infections. Probably due to the Iodine overkill by this retired RN but also in part to the fact that piglets have been nursing for several days and immune systems are in good order.
Tomorrow we'll return to regular programing. No blood , I promise.


  1. Oh my...(fanning self with hankie and reaching for the bourbon bottle)...Thank you Donna, an excellent tutorial. :-)

  2. I never had pigs and have just used the band on calves and goats. I keep the band at the door for any teenage boys to see, makes them wonder about why I keep it by the door.

    Good photos of what to do.

  3. Dad was a large animal vet in Henry County IL .. Hog capital of the world. You never knew what you might find in his pockets.


    50 years later, I never check pockets when doing laundry.

  4. Thank you for the excellent tutorial. Which may come in handy as Paul "mentioned" getting a piglet or two for us to grow out.

    You truly are the raw milk & piggy testicle ripper-outer queen! (Hmmm, I though it would have a better ring to it. Still think you rock.)

  5. Wow, great tutorial. Of course, i am eating as i read this. I must learn to time these things better.

  6. I'm said you "cut" the blood vessel. Other sources I've researched say to "pull" until it loosens and tears, in order to cause the vessel to naturally constrict itself. Can you explain the difference?

  7. I never pull until it tears - you may pull something else out especially if there is incomplete closure of scrotal walls. I use the blade to cut the testicles free by using a shaving motion which slowly cuts thru the cords which minimizes bleeding. When I have extra help, I will use a hemostat to clamp the cord for several seconds, then cut thru it, then release the hemostat. Just my way of castrating.....