Castration Device Helps Work On Older Calves

Loran Bokenfohr likes to wait as long as possible to castrate his bull calves so he can take full advantage of their natural growth hormones. The problem with that approach is that it's harder to get the job done on the bigger and stronger animals.

So the Busby, Alta., farmer designed a device to restrain and position animals for easy and safe access. It looks like the frame of a wheelbarrow and is simply rolled in under the back of the animal, spreading its legs and holding them apart.

Bokenfohr made a pair of wheels by cutting the edges off truck rims. He welded them to 7-ft. long sections of 1 by 2-in. steel tubing. An 8-in. section of tubing runs crosswise between the arms. He ran an "all thread" bolt through and put two nuts on each end leaving enough play in the bolts so he can open the handles.

"The crosswise tubing separates and stabilizes the side arms and if I were doing it over again, I would make it at least 4-in. longer," he says.

To use the device, Bokenfohr puts a calf in a runway headgate and then slides the device underneath the animal from the back, between the back legs. He then pushes a bar through the wheels from the side of the runway to hold them up and slips the two handles through a couple of twine loops to hold them in place, wide open.

Now the animal is ready to be castrated, with knife or bands.

"I've found that this system works best on calves weighing about 500 lbs., but I have used it on up to 850-lb. animals," Bokenfohr says. "It works good because the bars aren't just holding their legs from kicking you, but they are actually lifting the calf a bit and when their footing is less secure, they don't kick at all."