Not for the Weak Hearted...

Diamond calling to the ladies.

This post took several days to write.  It may sound like this all happened in one day,
but I can assure you, there are several days of thoughts here...

The blog has been quiet lately.  It's been hard to know what to write.  We've been battling with one of the worst decisions we've had to make on the farm since I don't know when.

Farming is not for the weak-hearted. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made, no matter how bad it hurts.  This one ranks in the top ten worst of the worst.

About the end of February, I started making comments that I didn't feel like Diamond's testicles looked quite right.  Although we've had cattle off and on for decades, I've never been in close proximity to any bull, much less a young bull, so when I was told that he was young and it would sort itself out, I figured that was right.

But as time has gone on, rather than correcting itself, the problem has become more and more pronounced.

Last Saturday, the husband got a good look while we were working in Diamond's paddock.  He didn't realize it was quite as severe as it was and decided the vet needed to get involved as soon as possible.  He should have two testicles of the same size, but one is severely underdeveloped.  You can barely see the tiny testicle high and small on the right.  The estimation is that it’s about 20% the normal size.

I spoke with the lovely couple that bred him today and they said they’ve never seen this pop up before in any of their bull calves.  They’ve been breeding Dexters for ~20 years.  The vet suggested it could be from an injury but they never saw anything obvious while he was with them and we haven’t either.  Of course, neither of us was watching him 24/7 so anything is possible.
It's like his testicle just stopped growing about the time he came to our farm.
So then comes the discussion...
What do we do now?  We planned to turn him in with our girls on June 1.  Is there any risk?  If we breed him, will this cause problems down the line?  Is he even capable of breeding? Is there any way to prove it's not some sort of genetic issue?
According to the vet -- yes, he is absolutely able to breed cows.  Unfortunately, there's no test to prove what caused this.  One potential genetic anomaly that results in this sort of testicular development is only visible in bulls but it can cause stillbirths, spontaneous abortions, and even the inability to conceive in any cows he sires. 
Our vet recommended castration since there’s no way to determine the source of this issue.
Ugh 😰
Diamond is a total sweetheart and I’m attached to him, and he to me.  When he had to go in the squeeze chute for his exam, there were several people ready to rodeo him in.  It wasn't necessary. Much to my boys' horror (they were convinced he'd run me over) he calmly followed me into the chute with his slow, methodical walk and placed his big ol' head right into the head catcher.  He didn't freak out when it was closed around his neck to hold him and he stood calmly while he was examined.  
That just doesn't happen very often.  He's a total sweetheart and his temperament is second to none.
Pretty much everyone present groped him to understand the situation.  When my turn came, it was so obvious.  One normal testicle, and one tiny one.  There's absolutely no question. 
I needed time to think. 
He was meant to be our herd sire.  I didn't want to make a rash decision without time to do my own research and just think.  I was holding out hope that maybe it was as simple as he was injured before he arrived on our farm but that was not the case.
After some googling and hard conversations, the vet's words still ring in our ears. We’ve decided it’s not worth the risk since we can't definitively identify why he has developed as he has.  The vet was particularly persuasive that castration was the right choice and at this point... we agree.
Do I think this is a result of irresponsible breeding? 
HECK NO.  I have a full pedigree and his bloodlines are stellar with some of the most well known animals in the Dexter world in his lineage.  I think this is just a freak thing with no logical explanation similar to when a child is unexpectedly born with a limb difference.  It's not something anyone could have predicted nor is it anyone's fault.  It just happens sometimes.  But unlike a limb difference, Diamond's condition has the potential to affect his progeny so the best thing to do is to prevent him from having any.
It has been a very hard decision to make but... we will be having Diamond castrated and he will be grown out for freezer beef.
It hurts to even type that out. 😭
The couple who bred Diamond have been wonderful and I would never want this to reflect on them poorly.  They have been nothing but honest and helpful from day one, even asking what they could do to make this right.  The answer to that is nothing.  It's nobody's fault and, even though it makes me sad, we will benefit from having him in our freezer.  I'm so happy to have them as friends and I know we will remain friends despite this little hiccup with Diamond.
It's kinda funny... when Diamond was born he had "steer?" written on his ear tag but he developed so nicely he made the cut to be a bull.  I have laughed that he could have been a steer... but now that tag seems kinda prophetic.
We will probably have to have our cows artificially inseminated this year so we won't miss a year of calving.  It's not what we planned but it's the hand we've been dealt.  We've been offered the loan of a young bull as well (Dexter people are the best) so we may take advantage of that as a clean-up bull in case the AI doesn't take.  At least... that's what we're thinking today.  We'll have to see how it plays out.
Now to locate a new herd sire that checks all our incredibly picky boxes...


On 12/14/22, Diamond was officially castrated. He had to be sedated and laid down due to his size and unusual development.  As it turns out, the small testicle was full of adhesions and had to be cut away from everything it touched with a scalpel.  The one testicle that we thought was normal was actually misshapen and squishy (a testicle should be firm).  The vet surmised that he likely was never fertile. In some ways, this news was a huge relief.  It just shows we made the right decision not to use him as our herd sire. 

Diamond has an appointment in September of 2023 to go to freezer camp.  It's not what we originally hoped for him, but on a farm, nothing goes to waste.  If he can't create beef, he becomes beef.  

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