Chris Schalk

Chris Schalk

In the United States, more than 17 million bulls that range in age from 1 day to 1 year are castrated yearly.

Tetanus is a potentially life-threatening neurologic disease affecting all species of domestic livestock, including cattle, so it’s important for producers to take steps to prevent it. UK Extension Ruminant Veterinarian, Dr. Michelle Arnold brings information on this timely topic. It’s easy to miss the subtle clinical signs of tetanus until the disease is advanced. At that point, treatment and management of the affected animal is very difficult, and the chance for recovery is poor. Recognition of the initial signs of stiff legs, an anxious expression with ears held back toward the poll, moderate bloat, erect tail and the unusual “flick” of the third eyelid across the eye leads to an accurate early diagnosis and allows you to begin treatment when it is most effective.

You should give any calf castrated with an elastrator band tetanus prevention in the form of either tetanus toxoid (two doses required with the second given two weeks prior to castration), tetanus antitoxin (given the day of banding) or both, in some cases. Early in life, testicles are smaller and the scrotal sac falls off much more quickly, so banding calves at this stage means they are less likely to develop tetanus, because the tetanus organism does not have time to grow. Earlier castration is relatively quick and easy, and it also lowers the infection risk, as well as the risk of injury to the person performing the castration.

Castration is a necessary management practice for cattle. Work with a local veterinarian to establish the optimal herd health program for your farm and institute an early castration program to minimize the pain, stress and complications that go along with this procedure. If you delay castration until the calves get older and heavier, these calves are at much higher risk for developing tetanus and are twice as likely to get respiratory disease when they arrive in a feedlot or backgrounding operation.

For more information on about preventing tetanus in cattle, contact your Barren Cooperative Extension Service

In the Short Rows

Now is the time to develop your fly control plan for this summer. Many fed products need time to break the life cycle of insects to be effective. Make plans now so you don’t have to react quickly when the flies pressure your animals.

Recommended for you