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Castrating beef calves
Fred M. Hopkins, Clyde D. Lanes

Castration is removal of the testicles of a male animal. Castration of your bull calves is an easy procedure to perform. Several techniques can be used and all can be mastered by the cattle producer. Feeder steers sell for more than bulls and the difference will pay for the costs associated with the practice several times over. Based on Tennessee livestock auction market reports, 500-pound steer calves sell for US$25 more per head than bulls of comparable quality. All male Tennessee feeder calves should be sold as steers.


There are several good reasons for castrating bull calves. Steers are less aggressive in the feedlot than bulls and are less likely to injure one another. Also, steers can be grouped with heifers without any danger of unwanted pregnancy in the heifers. However, the best reason for castrating bull calves is the increased value of the calf. Processors prefer steers over bulls, because at typical slaughter ages, steers have higher meat quality. Steers may grow a little slower than bulls, but implanting the steer calves with a growth-promoter at the time of castration can make up the difference.


Castration of the male calf is a simple, moneymaking practice for Tennessee feeder cattle producers. It is a simple procedure that is best done early in the calf's life. Tennessee feeder cattle should be marketed only as steers or heifers.


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Article made possible through the contribution of University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service.

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