Equine and Camelid Castration

Donkey castration

Donkeys are not just small horses! They tend to be more resistant to handling, anesthesia drugs and hemostasis. Plan on needing more patience, more drugs and suture. This vet talks through two castrations in different situations and different attitude donkeys.

Watch on youtube

She does a great step by step for everything from calculating doses to how to find the jugular vein.  You can also admire her calm control of the situation regardless of what happens.

Key components

8:44 – Drugs

20:42 and 24:09- Rope placement and induction, how to do rope restraint of back leg

25:53 – local blocks

27:00- Surgery – open castration with ligature-

Skip to:

43:21 -outside with a nervous jack

45:19- how to make a squeeze chute with two panels and a post

51:30 -recovery of nervous jack- could just let him get up on his own but notice she mostly just tries to hold him still so he doesn’t stumble

Feel free to watch the entire thing (or thru the first end of castration at about 36 min). She covers instruments, why to castrate, preop exams and more.

Exercise 1

Thoughts on the video:

  1. How did her doses (1.1 mg/kg xylazine and 2.2 mg/kg ketamine) compare to a horse of the same size?
  2. What does the epididymis really do? What would happen if you leave it behind?
  3. Why would standing castrations be more risky in donkeys (for the donkey)?
  4. How does her recommendation for restriction from jennets (3 days to be infertile, 6 weeks to be less stud-like) compare to the restrictions from mares?
  5. What tips and tricks did you take away that would apply to any equid? Standard donkey weight of 550# was one I liked.

Exercise 2

Time to try finding some answers. Use whatever you can find to explore more about jack castrations:

  1. She didn’t give NSAIDs. Those are really useful. When should they be given?
  2. Donkeys metabolize drugs differently. Do you need a different dose or frequency of NSAID administration for donkeys?
  3. Donkeys have a tendency to bleed more. Why is that? Do most people ligate as she did?
  4. Donkeys may not want to exercise properly. What do people recommend to minimize swelling in donkeys?
  5. Donkeys can be extremely overweight. How will this affect drug dosing and recovery from anesthesia?
  6. Some people feel older donkeys are unsafe to castrate? Why is this and is it true?

Exercise 3

Test yourself.


Validation of a donkey pain scale. Front. Vet. Sci., 11 June 2021

Emergency Management for Donkeys and Mules, 2021 VCNA Vol 37 pp 495-513

Clinical approach to castration in the donkey,

Anesthesia and analgesia of the donkey and mule, Equine veterinary education. , Vol.25(1), p.47-51


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Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes Copyright © by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.