What is the short-scrotum procedure and is it a viable alternative to castration?


The short-scrotum procedure is when you push the testicles up inside the body cavity and band the empty scrotum. Essentially, you are making the lamb/kid a cryptorchid. It is easier to do and less painful than castration (with an elastrator band).

Because the short-scrotum male still has a source of testosterone (his testicles, though they will be smaller), he should still act and grow like an intact male. However, since his testicles are up inside his body and not in the scrotum where they would be several degrees cooler, he should lack the fertility of an intact male. This would allow the co-mingling of males and females without the risk of breeding (theoretically), while gaining the superior growth and carcass characteristics of the intact male.

For two years, a study was conducted at the University of Maryland’s Western Maryland Research & Education Center to compare the growth, carcass, and reproductive characteristics of intact ram, wether (castrated), and short-scrotum rams. East Friesian x Lacaune dairy lambs were utilized for the study. Reproductive traits were assessed when the lambs were 6 to 7 months of age.

In both years, the intact ram and short-scrotum rams grew faster and produced leaner carcasses than the wether lambs. There were no significant differences in carcass muscling once rib eye area was adjusted to a common carcass weight. In both years, the short-scrotum rams displayed similar mating behavior as the intact males, though the latter had more services.

In the first year, the ejaculates of the short-scrotum rams (n=6) were devoid of sperm. The rams were determined to be infertile. In the second year, one short-scrotum ram had some viable sperm. Thus, the short-scrotum procedure did not completely cease reproduction in all of the short-scrotum rams (n=7) in year 2.

The short-scrotum procedure may be a viable alternative for sheep/goat producers who pasture-finish their animals. However, while the short-scrotum procedure greatly reduces fertility in the male, there is not a 100 percent guarantee that a short-scrotum male won’t impregnate females.

To reduce the probability of fertility in short-scrotum males, it is recommended that the short-scrotum procedure be performed at a young age (1-7 days, as with castration) and that animals probably not be kept to older ages.


Additional reading
Comparison of Ram, Wether, and Short Scrotum Lambs - University of Maryland
Implications of removing or altering the testicles of ram lambs on the financial returns of the carcasses - New Zealand Journal of Ag Research
The Short Scrotum Method of Castration in Lambs: A Review - AHDB UK