Castration is a process whereby a veterinarian removes the testicles of male livestock to prevent them from reproducing. Castration is a standard practice among virtually all livestock operations, and it’s the smart thing for any livestock owner to do for any animal that’s not specifically part of a breeding program. Castration provides behavioral and health benefits for the animals as well as makes them easier to care for.
Cattle and Hog Reproduction
The most obvious benefit of castrating boar hogs and bulls is that you will not have to worry about them producing unwanted or undesirable offspring. Castrated boar hogs are called barrows; castrated bulls are steers. Animals who are not breeding quality due to genetic flaws, physical flaws or health problems should always be castrated before they can pass on undesirable traits to their offspring. Unplanned and unwanted offspring are just as costly to care for as wanted, well-bred and planned offspring. Most male cattle wind up as steers, in work or meat programs, rather than bulls, the best specimens, left intact and set aside for breeding.
It is especially important to castrate hogs; the wild and feral hog population in the United States is a growing problem that has led to overpopulation and property damage in many states. Hogs reproduce quickly without restraints, and they have few natural predators to keep their wild population in check. Castrating domestic hogs helps prevent your animals from adding to the expanding and problematic wild hog population should they escape or should a feral pig get to your females.
According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, male hogs who are castrated early in life are easier to handle and less aggressive as adults. These individuals are also slightly smaller than their intact counterparts. The same general principal holds true for cattle. According to North Carolina State University, steers are more docile and get along better with other animals than bulls do.
Both hogs and cattle are kept by farmers and hobbyists as a source of meat. Beef Magazine reports that bulls consistently sell for less at auction and at slaughter for meat production than comparable steers do. North Carolina State University reports that steers are more marketable, and the meat from steers is considered to be better quality and more tender than that of bulls. The meat from boar hogs, meanwhile, has a distinct flavor considered undesirable by many consumers; many meat businesses are not interested in processing and selling meat from boars, according to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.