Castration of horses and donkeys


Ratification Date: 18 Jun 2009


Castration of horses and donkeys (including foals) is a significant surgical procedure, requiring appropriate technique, anaesthesia, analgesia and aftercare, including post surgical exercise. It should only be performed by a registered veterinarian.


Castration of horses and donkeys is an essential animal management procedure. Other reasons for castration include treatment of injury, tumours, herniations and orchitis or cryptorchid correction.

Many horses and donkeys are still castrated by non-veterinarians, which is a concern on welfare grounds as the animal will not be provided with adequate anaesthesia and analgesia during or after the procedure. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk to the patient.

Complications requiring veterinary attention can occur before, during or following the procedure and can be potentially fatal. Such complications include haemorrhage, intestinal eventration, colic, cellulitis, peritonitis and priapism.

Inadequate postoperative care can also lead to complications.

Particular attention to appropriate technique is required when castrating foals or much older animals.


As castration is an irreversible surgical procedure, obtaining a signed consent form from the owner prior to castration is recommended. Because horses, more so than donkeys, may be castrated in the standing position, the veterinarian should discuss with the owner the advantages and disadvantages of standing and recumbent castration.

Veterinary surgeons need to consider the selection of drugs most suited for induction and maintenance of anaesthesia and analgesia for the procedure.

Date of ratification by AVA Board 18 June 2009