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Traditional surgical castration

As mentioned before piglets are restrained during castration (using different techniques) to minimize any movement.

The scrotum is incised with a sharp scalpel. Other tools are sharp castration forceps and scissors. Before making the incision, the instruments and the skin area should be disinfected.

Some producers make a single incision while others make two, one on each side of the scrotum. The incision(s) in the scrotum is approximately 2cm in length, depending on the size of the testes. It is commonly used to scrape the cord in order to limit the bleedings.

Different procedures concerning how to do the cut are used. A cut along the testis (vertical incision) is preferred because it damage less tissue, will drain and thus will heal more quickly.

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Castration of young piglet using a cut across the testis. Source: Gaia

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Castration of young piglet using a cut along the testis. Source: Gaia

Historically other procedures have been applied in Europe of which some are still used in other parts of the world. A "Burdizzo" tool is a castration device designed to stop the blood supply to the testis which results in testicular necrocis and later that the testicles shrink and eventually deteriorate completely. An elastrator tool can also be used to secure a band around the testicles that disrupts the blood supply. This method is favored for its simplicity, low cost, and minimal training requirements but is difficult to apply on pigs because the scrotum does not have a narrow base. The method is also expected to be painful to the animals.

Methods of castration which are NOT approved in the EU are:

  • destruction of testicular tissue by the use of chemical agents (e.g. formalin or lactic acid),
  • inhibition of the sperm production by the use of other hormones (e.g. progesterone),