Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Vasectomy

Synonym(s): sterilization

Contributor(s): Paddy Gordon , Mark Burnell

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Introduction

  • A vasectomized bull can be used as an aid to heat detection in cattle herds.
    • The most likely use is in  dairy herds where estrus expression and detection are often sub-optimal.
    • Vasectomy is one of  many “tools” available to assist with heat detection, including heat mount devices, activity meters, milk progesterone testing, observation and the optimal use of records.
    • Dairy vets will need to have a good understanding of the pros and cons of each heat detection approach before recommending vasectomized bulls.
  • Vasectomy is a straightforward surgical procedure but can provide challenges in the field in terms of restraint, anesthesia and procedure.

Uses

  • Use has been shown to be effective at increasing heat detection rates and therefore submission rates.
  • Presence of a vasectomized bull allows AI Artificial insemination to be utilized, rather than reliance on stock bulls.

Advantages

  • A vasectomized bull might be selected as it is an approach requiring little investment in time or money on farm compared to other heat detection aids.
  • The bull can be sold for beef value at end of his working life, giving a return on investment in rearing and other costs..
  • Use of a chin ball marker will help to identify cows in estrus but is not essential .

Disadvantages

  • Bulls can be dangerous. The main concern is health and safety and consideration should be given to farm personnel, farm visitors and the general public.
  • There is an increased risk of injury, either to the bull as likely to be used in a housed environment, and also to smaller cows or heifers.
  • There is a potential risk of venereal disease as is the case when natural service is in use with a stock bull.

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Aftercare

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Outcomes

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Prognosis

  • Histology to confirm surgery has removed the vas deferens is advisable.
    • The author places samples in formalin preservative and marks the sample pot with ear tag, farm and date.
    • Samples can be sent for histology or retained for histology in the event of a claim.
  • The likelihood of recanalization is minimal, although has been reported. Annual electro-ejaculation to confirm non-fertile minimizes the risk of litigation.
    • Farmers should be given written warnings indicating the risks of recanalization and advised to check this with annual electro-ejaculation.
    • Bull working life is relatively short, compared to rams, making this risk lower.
  • With bull testing electro-ejaculators in common use, an alternative approach is to assess the sperm count and viability prior to use .
  • Bull can be used once they have reached the required stature or around two weeks post-op.
  • Vasectomized bulls on a mixed ration dairy diet will gain weight and body condition rapidly.
  • Periods of rest and low energy diet will maintain working life by ensuring recovery of libido and maintaining appropriate BCS Body condition scoring.
  • Having two vasectomised bulls allows one to rest and one to work

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Ewoldt J M (2008) Surgery of the Scrotum. Veterinary Clinics of North America 24, 253-266 VetMedResource.
  • Zicarelli L, Esposito L, Campanile G, Di Palo R & Armstrong D T (1997) Effects of using vasectomised bulls in artificial insemination practice on the reporoductive efficiency of Italian buffalo cows. Animal Reproduction Science 47, 171-180 PubMed.
  • Foote R H (1975) Estrus detection and Estrus detection aids. Journal of Dairy Science 58, 248-255 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Weaver A D, St. Jean G & Steiner A (2005) Bovine Surgery & Lameness. 2nd edn. Blackwell Publishing. pp 183-5.


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