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Q: Castrating Sheep with Teeth? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Castrating Sheep with Teeth?
Category: Science > Agriculture and Farming
Asked by: pull_the_trig-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 16 Jul 2004 21:18 PDT
Expires: 15 Aug 2004 21:18 PDT
Question ID: 375251
I have heard that to speed the process of castrating sheep,
sheepherders use (or used to use) their teeth to bite off the scrotum.

My wife claims her father even did this as a youth. 

However, when I asked Snopes about it, they told me it is a myth and
that no woman would ever marry a scrotum-biting sheepherder.

Do (or did) sheepherders use their teeth to castrate sheep and if so
can you provide enough proof to convince that this is
indeed true?
Subject: Re: Castrating Sheep with Teeth?
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 21 Jul 2004 17:06 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear pull_the_trig-ga;

Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to answer your interesting
question. There does seem to be some truth (to a degree) in the story
of men using their teeth to castrate farm animals but it probably
doesn?t happen quite as literally as the physical act would seem to
convince one that it does.

Apparently, from what I have read, sheep (lambs in particular)
understandably put up quite a fight during this procedure. Some
farmers are said to use a method whereby they would pin the lamb to
the ground, and since they had only one free hand to do the job, would
take hold of the testicles with their teeth, pull up, and swiftly
slice the organs off. Naturally they would immediately spit the
amputation onto the ground nearby and this would certainly give the
appearance that they had bitten the organs off when in fact they were
actually severed with a blade. Consider this description of the event
from someone who witnessed the event many times as a young lad:

?Thousands of lambs were born each year. Us kids loved them and still
do. Lambs had to have their tails cut off and the males had to have
their tails and testicles removed. Cutting their tails off was quick
and simple but cutting the testicles, that was something else. Us kids
were allowed to watch the men do this bloody work. They would hold the
testicles tight underneath, slit the skin holding the testicle in, put
their mouth down and get hold of the testicle with their teeth, lift
it up a bit, slice it off with the knife in their other hand and then
spit the testicle on the ground. The man doing this had blood all over
his mouth and face. There was a big heap of testicles and lamb tails
on the ground but the testicles were soon cleaned up by the many black
crows that lived there.?

?The Early Years at Wesley Dale, Tasmania Australia Circa 1922 to 1937?

I doubt it was done differently, as in literally biting them off
without the aid of a knife, since a human?s teeth are not nearly
adequate enough to make that kind quick amputation necessary to keep
from crippling an animal or preventing it from bleeding to death
before the task was completed (not to mention the enormous infection
and mortality rate this would have created). However, I did find one
reference that reportedly comes from John Clarke?s 'GENERAL VIEW OF
brutal castration of a farm animal in this fashion:

?they open the scrotum, take hold of the testicles with their teeth,
and with violence tear them out?

Even here though it is explained ?they open the scrotum?? presumably
with a knife, which leads me to believe that this procedure was done
in the same fashion as mentioned earlier, but appeared, to the writer
at least, more brutal than history ultimately recorded it.

In summary, it does appear that some farm animal castrations were
?teeth assisted?, if that makes sense, but quite unlikely, for obvious
reasons, dependent upon human teeth alone. In a sense, your wife is
probably right ? that?s certainly how it would have looked, and
?biting? the gonads off is probably what the men who did it called it,
even though it probably wasn?t how it literally happened (at least not
in civilized times). I hope this sheds some light on the practice and
helps put the issue to rest for you ? and your wife.

Below you will find that I have carefully defined my search strategy
for you in the event that you need to search for more information. By
following the same type of searches that I did you may be able to
enhance the research I have provided even further. I hope you find
that my research exceeds your expectations. If you have any questions
about my research please post a clarification request prior to rating
the answer. Otherwise, I welcome your rating and your final comments
and I look forward to working with you again in the near future. Thank
you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;
Tutuzdad ? Google Answers Researcher


Defined above



Google ://


sheep testicles "with their teeth"

Clarification of Answer by tutuzdad-ga on 21 Jul 2004 17:11 PDT
I think it's safe to contact Snopes and tell them what you have
learned if you are so inclined. No doubt they will consider disputing
the information, but at least two references do indicate that this was
indeed the practice. The factual basis will lie in the practice of
"using one's teeth as a sole means of castrating an animal" (nonsense)
vs. "using one's teeth to assist in the castration of an animal"
(which appears to be factual, and a reasonable explanation).

pull_the_trig-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
I welcome your answer, I knew I was right
That old farming workers made use of their bite

Perhaps they were hungry or born to poor fate
I’m Glad for my fortune, no sheep to castrate.

Subject: Re: Castrating Sheep with Teeth?
From: rcarr-ga on 21 Jul 2004 14:35 PDT
A web search ( ://
) provides many, er, insightful results but they all appear to be of
the anecdotal "friend-of-a-friend" variety. Snopes tends to rely only
on solid evidence.

I'm interested, though. Are you trying to prove that your wife is right or wrong?
Subject: Re: Castrating Sheep with Teeth?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 21 Jul 2004 14:55 PDT
My grandfather, who operated a small farm, once told his grandkids
that he used his teeth to castrate calves. We were horrified and
disgusted, of course. Many years later, when I was grown up, I asked
Grandpa about this. He laughed and said that it was just a wild story
that he'd heard, and that he had not actually done this, but was
trying to get a rise out of us.

I suspect that accounts which report this sort of thing are mostly
relayed as "friend of a friend" tales. "This didn't happen to me, but
I know it's true because it happened to a friend of a friend..."
Subject: Re: Castrating Sheep with Teeth?
From: pull_the_trig-ga on 21 Jul 2004 16:22 PDT
I have heard the tale before and thought it was false, until my wife
brought it back up.

I really want to prove Snopes wrong more than anything because they
are so smug about thinking they know so much about everything.
Subject: Re: Castrating Sheep with Teeth?
From: tutuzdad-ga on 21 Jul 2004 16:29 PDT
I find it more amazing that someone would actually "admit" to doing it :)
Subject: Re: Castrating Sheep with Teeth?
From: notagen-ga on 17 Feb 2005 19:26 PST
I had my first job working on a station as a Jakeroo,one of my duties
was at lamb marking time to "bite out" the testicles of the young
   The proceedure went like this,the two bosses would catch the lambs
in the yard and hold them up on the fence with there arms holding the
back legs up around the lambs head and the lambs rump resting on the
  I would then pull the testicle sack down and push the testicles back
up towards the body of the lamb ,thus in doing so would give a clear
slack piece of the sack to cut off,a very sharp special castarating
knife was used , the knife had a small crook like aparatus on one end
that could be used to hook hold of the testicle and pull it out , but
it was quite usless and too slow.
  The age old method of "biting" them out was the quickest.
  The fingers were squeesed down each side of the sack and the two
testicles popped out the cut off end,then  i would take a strong hold
with my teeth and pull like hell, the string that is attached up
inside the sheep somwhere had to come away as well,one would then spit
the testicle on the ground and the dogs were allways there to gobble
them down, then i would repeat the process  and go for the second one
  The next step was to hold the long tail with the left hand and
quickly run the very sharp knife down the tail until about the second
joint from the butt and with an upward swing with the left hand and a
downward push with the knife the tail would be cut off.
  This was probablly the worst part as as soon as the tail was cut a
thin but powerfull spray of blood would shoot into ones face if you
were not quick enough to duck.
  It only seems like a bad job to the ones that have never done it
,the fly blown maggoty ones were without a doubt not pleasant to have
ones face buried in close to the wool.
  On a good day we would do around 200.
  This is a true story ask any of the old bushies and they will confirm it.

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