I'm looking into buying a bander, and I'm interested to know if anyone here bands or has banded their own bull calves. Do you have any recommendations, suggestions, or stories of what not to do? From what I see on the internets, there's the high-dollar Callicrate banders, and more economical banders that use the rubber cheerios. Both seem to have pros and cons and I'm hoping to hear about some hands on experience.
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We band our own and I think this is easy for a small operator to do. The small bander with the small bands is fine for calves up to 4 months old or so - we band as soon as practical.
We also have a large bander with the rings for older animals, annd those bands are also fairly effective for removing large horns without a lot of trauma.
I don't have experience with the Callicrate banders.
A related joke my father always told: If you want to be a cattleman, you need to learn enough math to count to 2.
No knowledge with cattle I can share. However, as a teen I went to New Zealand for a year as an exchange student. During that year they arranged for the city kids to get to spend a week in the country (and vice versa). So I spent a week on a sheep farm, during lambing season. Helped the farmer with tailing and castrating. Both were done with bands. I will say it seemed fairly simple. Myself and the other exchange student that stayed on that farm would lift the lambs up holding both front legs, and one hind leg, and put their butt on a wood plank about hip high. The farmer would then put a band around the base of the tail, and if a ramling around the scrotum. Once released the lambs would kick for about 30-60 seconds until everything went numb and then they'd calm down.
Biggest issue I remember with the castrating was making sure you got both testicles. If one hasn't descended yet the band won't get it, obviously. In that case you'd need to wait until it descends or go the surgical route.
I have zero experience, but this does remind me of a Mike Rowe video. He was doing a show on castrating lambs, and he asked around, everyone said banding. They did not band, but instead would cut a slit, pull them out with their teeth. This seemed more harsh, but Mike said those lambs recovered so much more quickly. I'm not sure about cattle, but something to think about.
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I use the California bander. When I bought it years ago, it came with the tool and 25 bands.
It’s a little tricky to use but not hard. Once one learns how to do it, it’s really easy and the calves are only uncomfortable for a short period of time. The younger the calf, the easier and faster to heal.
I do it by myself, though only doing one or two a year - mine are bull calves from my dairy cows.