Important tips to improve calf comfort during castration

While not a practice typical in veal cattle production, the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Veal Cattle (the Code) outlines requirements for producers that incorporate castration into the management of their dairy feeder calves that may be destined for the dairy-beef market.

The herd veterinarian is part of the farm management team and a great resource when it comes to incorporating painful practices into herd management – the vet can help producers develop a plan, show them how to perform the task to make sure it’s done correctly and help avoid injuries and infection, and advise producers on what type of animal health products should be used.

Even though it’s recommended to perform castration at a young age, when animals are easier to handle, heal more quickly, and have lower declines in growth rate, anesthetic and pain control must still be used. Vets can also help producers decide if a sedative should be included as part of the protocol. Sedatives make animals easier to handle and reduce stress by limiting the amount of physical restraint needed, which can help maintain calf welfare during painful practices.


Castration must only be performed after training with a veterinarian and by competent personnel using proper technique and well-maintained, sanitary equipment.

Castration must be done at as early an age as possible. At any age, pain control must be provided in consultation with a veterinarian, including local anesthesia and systemic analgesia.

Cattle must be monitored after castration to ensure there are no signs of infection or abnormal bleeding.

Appropriate restraint (chemical or physical) must be used when castrating cattle.

For more information, see the Code.