Managing Castration Complications in the Field

This makes us further question the many, many deaths from gelding complications that happened at Gunnison prison.  The cause of death for many stallions was listed as “intestines fell out.”  Click HERE to read the BLM’s Instruction Memorandum on gelding.


By Erica Larson, News Editor


Proper emasculator application, with the prominent external assembly nuts facing the testis and the correct perpendicular orientation to the spermatic cord, can help reduce the liklihood of complications arising.  Photo: Courtesy Dr. P.O. Eric Mueller

Routine equine surgical procedures are just that—routine. But that doesn’t mean complications don’t develop. Take castration, for example. It’s one of the most common elective surgical procedures performed in the field, but sometimes things go wrong. Veterinarians must be prepared well in advance to manage any postoperative problems, which for gelding can range from mild swelling to devastating intestinal prolapse.

To that end, P.O. Eric Mueller, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, professor and director of equine programs at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Athens, reviewed how practitioners can prevent and manage castration complications in the field at the 2015 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas.

In previous studies researchers reported a complication rate of about 10%, he said. Of those, the vast majority were considered mild, about 20% were considered moderate, and just 3% were considered severe. But severe can mean death in some cases, so knowing how to respond is crucial.

Of course, preventing complications is preferable to having to manage them, so he offered the following tips on castrating:

Read the rest of this article HERE.


  1. This is a report from a Davis veterinarian doing an independent
    investigation into gelding practices at Indian Lakes following the first Calico
    ….In it, he observed a quick, efficient process that seemed to
    minimize recovery time, however, he was very concerned about the use of
    a paralytic NOT an anesthetic,
    during the course of the surgery. He noted increased heart rate and respiration during the inital phase of surgery, indicating these animals were awake and aware of what was happening to them before anesthesia.


  2. Example of BLM’s Gunnison facility deaths for Triple-B wild horses (from FOIA data):
    Captured summer of 2011
    NINE of these were reported dead due to “gelding complications” within 2 months
    What kind of a vet was doing this gelding that caused so many deaths from a procedure that is normally “routine”?


    Where Have All The Geldings Gone?

    According to Ms. Patton’s letter, over 2,000 geldings have been sent through one particular slaughter port from New Mexico to Mexico this year alone. According to the report, this year’s number of geldings is twice as high as it was for the same time last year.

    The geldings are the exclusive class of animal being shipped through this port under a “non-slaughter” listing, begging the questions-

    Why only geldings?
    Where are all the geldings coming from?

    They can’t possibly be for breeding purposes and once they cross the border, there is no legal limitations that prevent them being greeted by a slaughterhouse fate. Geldings are also worth more by “the pound”.

    So what is going on?

    Anyone remotely familiar with how BLM conducts wild horse removals knows that almost all wild stallions are gelded when they are removed from the range. Considering BLM has removed over 70,000 wild horses and burros between October, 2001 and March, 2007, logic would suggest the geldings being supplied to Mexico may be coming straight from our own wild American Herds.


    • So you’re saying that, like castrating cattle, wild horses are being prepared for the meat market before going to a Mexican or Canadian slaughterhouse? How cold-blooded.


      • Id, I am wondering why they bother castrating at all if they are intended to be shipped for slaughter – why spend the time/money/risk etc.? This makes me wonder if only some male horses are selected for castration (with at least some prospect of adoption), while many others are just loaded up intact and down the road. This may explain some of the missing numbers, or horses who never get branded but are just kept rolling until they cross the border with forged papers.


      • Well, I have always heard that in addition to making cattle more docile, per Wikipedia, and also from having acquaintances in the food industry, specifically the meat industry – “Livestock may be castrated when used for food to increase growth or weight or both of individual male animals and because of the undesirable taste and odor of the meat from sexually mature males.” i.e. ‘gamey’.


      • It doesn’t seem that far fetched to me, and certainly bears looking into? I’m sure that to make money, whatever can be done, has been done. I don’t know if I would trust any USDA records entirely. What did the USDA say about the Davis horses?

        I wish the adoption myth would go away – even at best,’adoption’ should not be acceptable thinking for our wild horses, and who know what happens to them after adoption? I’d bet only in rare cases or perhaps horse advocate sanctuaries, are they truly better off than in the wild.


      • Also, time/money/risk? There doesn’t appear to be much expense involved if they are getting the job done, albeit unprofessionally, by prisons for cheap labor a lot of the time. They don’t seem to care about risk as we can see, and they’ve got the time. Despicable. But transparency would clear it all up, I suppose.


      • Ida, there is a certain amount of time/money/risk involved, even in processing these unfortunate horses one by one, all of which could be better spent elsewhere. Want to take bets who pays the medical bills for anyone injured doing these procedures? US. This whole system is just surreal, and cynical. Surely we can find better answers?


    • Based on USDA – SAGARPA border inspection records, it seems that the Mexican Ag. Dept was (and is) turning down stallions intended for slaughter at the border facilities. It is common to see horses with postcastration injuries in the inspection / discarding records.


      • Replying Ici’s comment it seems the castration thing is limited to Mexico and looks like stemming from a “preventive” animal disease control regulation of them (to prevent slaughter horses from mating with non-slaughter ones even if theoretically they are shipped in sealed trucks directly to the plant).


      • Thanks for the information, Daniel, that makes sense and would justify the time, expense and risks of castrating horses they know or suspect will end up slaughtered.


      • Still, it really doesn’t make any sense from a purely administrative point of view since the horses are supposed to travel in sealed trucks that are only unloaded at the slaughter plant, so gelding them is cruel an unnecessary, there is no risk of equine metritis being transmitted by these horses. It only prolongs their suffering.


      • Daniel, agreed. Any risks of pregnancy would seem of no consequence, either, since any mares within reach are also slaughter bound, and there is no sanctuary even for pregnant mares as slaughterhouse videos prove. I suppose it may be more to prevent fighting between frightened stallions in close quarters – and the castration and any untreated complications will set most of them back a while (presuming they survive).


  4. Reading this is painful. Only our horses have more pain. Such cruelty is beyond words, and these sadists want to geld them and neuter females on the range. Horrible.


    • Yes. Why do they have prisoners doing this who have no experience and who knows what level of compassion and mental health? We seem to think that even here, a questionable means of rehabilitation of humans is more important than animal life. I’m sure that it is helpful for a small percentage – but ‘mistakes’ made are not worth that. Or doing things the cheapest way possible.


      • or maybe prisoners have a lot more experience knife-wielding. Blech. And just how insensitive is it to list the cause of death that way?


    • They look so staged, you can practically hear the instructions from the cameraperson – give the horse a kiss. Too immaculate and cleaned up for public consumption – they don’t have a spot of dirt on their clothes, do they? Some photos aren’t that great, but mostly they look staged. Ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is disturbing to think of the known connections between violence towards animals and humans. It would seem not the smartest strategy for society to have criminals using ropes, knives, and complete domination of helpless animal, and no consequences if the animals die. How is this rehabilitating people again?


  5. It looks like little by little the sending of the rounded up wild horses to slaughter is being exposed. The only place where that many geldings could be sent to slaughter is from the held in captivity wild herds. There no such thing as 50,000 of these horses being boarded out on anonymous ranches and there never has been. Unless there were people watching these holding pens 24/7 ready to follow any truck that had loaded up and pulled out headed for the interstate the public would never know unless they had read the Peer White Paper. Thank you Louie C for bringing the American Herds article to our attention. This is just another nail in the BLM’s coffin.


    • Barbara, it is relatively common to microchip cattle, and modern trailers scan them as they enter and exit the trailer. Why aren’t we insisting on something similar for captured wild horses, along with public access to the resulting database, since the whole program is taxpayer funded and the wild horses are public property until at least one year after being adopted.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Slaughter-bound horses are required by Mexican SENASICA / SAGARPA to be microchipped and entered in a bogus ID database before crossing the border. I would not be surprised if KBs attempted to remove the chips from their skins while alive to later implant a new one (it happened before). Still, it is an idea that we should look at.


      • Daniel, thanks again for more information. I wish I was surprised the system is being scammed at every turn. At least we have some chance of knowing which horses were loaded into a trailer perhaps, if they were microchipped, but this system too could be corrupted, sadly. What we really need is a system with live cams synched to microchips, and on a live publicly accessible feed.


  6. As of 9/30/2015 ALL wild horses and burros will be gelded “that are either removed from the range or are born in BLM off-range facilities once the animal is a weanling or older.” There are a few exceptions if authorized by the BLM. (see link)
    Stallions and jacks affected by cryptorchidism “will be regarded as having a serious physical defect and will be euthanized.”
    Absolute Managing for Extinction


    • I’d say the “serious physical defect” belongs to the BLM’s decision makers! But then most of the “serious physical defects” that they claim belong to the horses who have lived with them most of their lives when they actually had their freedom. I’ve always felt it was amazing what debilitating injuries that these horses were able to live with in the wild that became reasons to kill them. They adapt – as do other species. We once had a deer living in our area that managed to live long enough to sprout antlers (probably 1 to 2 years old) and he had one front leg that was completely useless – dangled from the knee. He was seen over a period of one or two years – and other than the leg – looked fit and healthy! Of course, once the antlers grew – he wasn’t seen after hunting season. But it certainly shone a light on how a wild animal can adapt to a horrific injury. These twerps at BLM have NO conception of what a wild animals life truly is – nor do they want to!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Federal Embezzlement Laws
    Embezzling federal money or property is a specific crime, charged in federal district court.

    The key is that the defendant had legal access to another’s money or property, but not legal ownership of it. Taking the money or property for the defendant’s own gain is stealing; when combined with the fact that this stealing was also a violation of a special position of trust, you have the unique crime of embezzlement.

    Offenses That Can Be Charged Under State or Federal Law
    Federal Embezzlement Categories and Punishments
    Federal embezzlement laws are broken down by the type of money or property stolen. Here’s a short description of each category, and the associated penalties. Convictions whose fines are $250,000 are felonies; convictions with fines of up to $100,000 are misdemeanors.
    Programs receiving federal funds

    Theft of livestock

    This section addresses the embezzlement of livestock, money, or other property worth $10,000 or more, that is connected with marketing or selling livestock in interstate or foreign commerce. Penalties include a fine up to $250,000, up to five years in prison, or both. (U.S.C.A. § 667.)


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