Colt castration

Colt Castration – advice to owners.

There are two main methods of castrating colts, both have pros and cons:

Standing open castration: This is the most commonly used method. The surgery is performed under heavy sedation and local analgesia thus removing the risk of a general anaesthesia. There is a relatively high complication rate with standing castrations – although the majority of these are minor, for example swelling and post-operative infection. Standing castrations can be undertaken in the horse’s own stable or at the clinic. Generally older stallions are not suitable for standing castration because of higher risks of complications. The standing method is relatively cheap.

Closed castration under general anaesthesia: This is the most suitable method for stallions over 4 years of age. It obviously carries the risk associated with general anaesthesia in the horse but there are far fewer post-operative complications with closed castrations. The reason for this is that the surgery is conducted under sterile hospital conditions and the abdominal cavity is closed. Closed castrations under general anaesthesia are about 50% – 100% more expensive than standing castrations depending on the size of the horse.

Advice to owners having a colt castrated at their own stables:

Before the operation:

Prepare a clean freshly bedded stable (must be STRAW NOT SHAVINGS). The bed should be put down the day before to avoid creating dust.

One bucket of hand hot CLEAN water and one helper to hold the horse’s head are necessary.

The owner or their agent (over 18 years of age) must be present to identify the horse.

Make sure the colt has been fully vaccinated against TETANUS.

Post-operative care:

We try to castrate most colts in the morning – they should be turned out in the afternoon following the operation in a clean (mud free) paddock. The horse should be kept in for a minimum of 1 ½ hours to allow the sedation to wear off.

The colt may sweat profusely as the sedation wears off – this is normal.

It is normal for there to be a slow drip of blood from the wounds in the scrotum (which will be left open). Occasionally a larger clot of blood will drop out. This may continue for up to 24 hours.

There may be some swelling of the scrotum (up to twice its normal size) for 3 – 4 days post op however this should start to decrease by the end of the first week.

Contact the surgery for advice if:

There is constant bleeding from the wound – blood dripping faster than you can count the individual drops.

A large amount of tissue is seen dangling out of the wound (other than a blood clot).

The colt stops eating or drinking or runs a temperature.

The swelling does not subside after one week.

The horse shows any sign of colic.


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