How to Dock Lamb Tails with an Elastrator Band

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How to Dock Lamb Tails with an Elastrator Band

Castration Bander Forceps Pliers Tail Dock Cattle Sheep Goat & 100Pcs Castrator Rings Docking a young lamb’s tails, also called banding, is bloodless & easy with a elastrator band and should be done at the youngest age.  In older lambs the stress of this procedure can adversely affect growth, and the chance of complications increase.
Though it is not recommended, this could be done immediately after birth. It is recommended you wait until you can castrate and give the Tetanus antitoxin injection all at once.
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You will need a Banding tool, called an elastrator, that opens bands, someone to hold the young lamb, & the bands. This one comes from Amazon as a set  and opens approximately 1.75 x 1.50. The bands are a thick rubber ring that comes in packages of 100 count. Do not use household rubber bands!   Refrigerate the bands to prevent them from breaking down until it is time to use them. Banding lamb tails is a fairly easy process. It is not necessary to disinfect the elastrator or rings since this method is bloodless. If you are nervous your first time, have a sheep or goat friend assist you, or ask your veterinarian to guide you. Take a second lamb, you can observe the first one, and have them instruct you while do band the second one. This docking method is the one most used by herd owners for lamb tail docking. It is easy, quick, reliable and bloodless. The lamb will experience some discomfort but quickly get over it. Tail docking is carried out to increase cleanliness and reduce fly strike & possibility of maggots or cancer, but final tail length is important to achieve the best outcome for the lamb. Docking lamb tails to short will predispose lambs to rectal prolapse due to nerve damage and ewes to prolapse during labor. According to many experts the proper length to a docked tail would be at the top of the vulva or 3 joints from the body. Tails docked at the correct length enables the lamb/sheep to control the movement of the tail.   Proper tail length reduces dirty hindquarters, fly strikes, and maggots.  Correct tail length on ewe lambs will also protect them from harsh weather, which may cause implications in reproduction. Once experienced, you will be able to set up a medical station and vaccinate, castrate and band tails alone if necessary. There are many ways to hold a lamb and I have listed a few here.
  1.  Position the lamb on his side with his back to your assistant. Your assistant will restrain the hind legs and front legs.
  2.  Your assistant can hold the lamb in her lap, facing outward with his/her back to her chest, or she can straddle the lamb and lift the back legs up so he/she is standing on his/her two front feet.
  3. When holding a lamb alone, catch the lamb, set it up its bottom squeezing between your knees. I give the Tetanus antitoxin injections under the skin of their front leg, and apply the castration band first. Stand the lamb up, facing backwards, squeezing between your knees, apply the tail band.
  Ready??
  1. Restrain the animal as described previously.
  2. Even though this is a bloodless procedure, the tetanus organism can gain entry through the irritated tissue around the rubber ring. Tetanus antitoxin injections are recommended in conjunction with all banding procedures. I do my injection before placing the first band. Administer of an injection of tetanus antitoxin does require direction at first. Instructions are noted here.
  3. Place a rubber ring on the prongs of the elastrator. Push it back, to close to the edge and it can release early. Turn the elastrator so that the prongs face the animals body. Expand the ring by squeezing the elastrator handles together and place over the tail.
  4. Manipulate the tail thru the band, pulling it straight and judge the length with your other hand, position the open band between the 3rd and 4th joint from the body.
  5.  Confirm the band is where you want it 
  6. Release elastrator handles, closing the ring, and carefully, roll the ring off, into place, while you pull the elastrator away and off the tail, displacing the ring from the prongs, thereby positioning the ring.
  7. Check to confirm that the band is where you want it! If they are not, cut the ring off and start over.
  8. Practice, Practice, Practice. You will get the hang of it in no time.
       

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