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Effects of Time of Complete or Split Castration on Performance of Beef Cattle

M. G. Keane
Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research
Vol. 38, No. 1 (Jun., 1999), pp. 41-51
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25562344
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Effects of Time of Complete or Split Castration on Performance of Beef Cattle
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Abstract

The effects of complete or split castration of spring-born calves in their first autumn or the following spring were investigated in two experiments. In experiment 1, 144 Friesian and Charolais × Friesian calves (mean live weight 214 kg) at pasture were assigned within breed type to three castration treatments: 1) complete castration in autumn, 2) split castration (right testicle in autumn and left testicle in spring), and 3) complete castration in spring. The animals remained at pasture for 55 days after the date of autumn castration, were then housed for a 144-day winter, and were then turned out to pasture for a 157-day grazing season. In experiment 2, 72 Charolais × Friesian calves (mean live weight 241 kg) at pasture were assigned to low (silage only) or high (silage +2 kg concentrates per head daily) feeding levels in winter and the castration treatments described above. The animals remained at pasture for 23 days after autumn castration, were then housed for a 134-day winter, and were then turned out to pasture for a 181-day grazing season. There was no significant effect of breed type on live-weight gains in experiment 1. In experiment 2, the high feeding level increased (P < 0.01) live-weight gain in winter but the low feeding level animals exhibited compensatory gain subsequently at pasture. Mean live-weight gains for the 2-month period following autumn and spring castration were 649, 720 and 756 (s.e.d. 27.1, P < 0.05) and 999, 854 and 763 (s.e.d. 35.6, P < 0.001) g/day for the autumn, split and spring castration treatments, respectively. Corresponding values for the periods from autumn to spring castration and from spring castration to the end of the study were 535, 599 and 609 (s.e.d. 19.3, P < 0.05) and 960, 897 and 879 (s.e.d. 17.4, P < 0.01) g/day. Mean growth rates over the entire study period were similar for the three castration treatments. It is concluded that neither time of castration nor splitting of castration significantly affected live weight at the end of the second grazing season. Scrotal size was a good indicator of how recently animals were castrated.

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