Remove, or not to remove?

Wow what a busy first quarter of 2017 that was! As well as my normal spring health checks I also travelled the length and the breadth of the country removing antler sets from castrated males.

The withdrawal of testosterone from the UK veterinary market saw a sharp increase in clients booking my antler removal services between January and March, with many now preferring this method to injections.

There seem to be several reasons for this:

1. Immediacy

One of the main benefits of the antler removal method is that the antlers are taken off immediately and, where several members of the herd have the procedure at the same time, it eliminates bullying and potential hierarchy changes. In the cases of bulls that have finished covering but are still aggressive, it also has an almost immediate impact on their mood and ensures the safety of the females (and humans) around them.

2. Clean area

With the injection method antlers can often be partially dropped or break leaving old antlers in place restricting space for new growth. With the removal method you can go down to the cap which, when popped off, will leave a clean and clear area for the new antler set to grow through unrestricted.

3. No change in behaviour

Some clients have reported that the injections have caused a change in behaviour in their reindeer, with them becoming aggressive and “moody” overnight. Apart from being slightly unsettled during the actual removal procedure, there is no impact or effect on the behaviour or health of the reindeer during this method. The hormone levels are unchanged and the body isn’t asked to do anything – the reindeer can therefore focus its energies on growing a new set.

How to deal with antlers on castrated males remains a very personal choice with many preferring the testosterone method and some even trialing partial castrations in a bid to encourage castrated males to drop naturally. Owners need to proceed with the method they feel most comfortable with but its great to know that many who previously discounted the antler removal method are happy to continue down this path now they have seen the benefits for their animals.