Processing lambs with “O” rings

An expander stretches the latex rubber ring(s) open to allow sliding it over a tail or scrotum. When released the ring(s) clamps the arteries shut. The tail or scrotum usually drops off in 7 to 14 days.

See Premier’s docking and castrating video using O rings.


Rings (from all sources) occasionally break so it’s wise to either:

  1. Check results a week later and re-ring as needed.
  2. Apply 2 rings instead of one. Rings are less than 2¢ so it’s cheap insurance. We put 2 rings on all pasture-born lambs because lambs are older (so may have thicker tails) and we don’t want to bring the flock in a second time.

Though the ring method is proven by tests to cause more animal distress than a knife or emasculator, the pain lasts less than 30 minutes if lambs are less than 7 days old.

Advantages of ring method:

  • No method is simpler or quicker.
  • Rings and expander are not expensive.
  • Tool/rings fit into pockets or tool boxes.
  • Fly-strike is less likely (no blood).

Issues of ring method:

  1. With lambs and kids it can be difficult to get both testicles below the ring because the testicles are small.
  2. Applying rings before a lamb or kid is 24 hours old, up on its feet, nursing and active may interrupt nursing and so pre-dispose lamb to death from E. coli problems (“watery mouth”). That’s why we wait 2 days to use them on twins, triplets and orphans.
  3. Rings may make a lamb vulnerable to tetanus. Vaccinate all ewes or does for this prior to lambing or kidding.