Farm Advice: Castrating Bulls, Horse Nomenclature, and Hale Bay Storage

"Poppy George" Plitt answers homesteaders questions about castrating a young bull, the differences between gelding, colts and yearlings, common gestation periods of farm animals, and hay bale storage.

| September/October 1975

  • Horse and colt
    A male horse less than three years old is called a colt, and the female a filly.

  • Horse and colt

"Poppy George" Plitt graduated from college with a degree in agriculture in 1932 During the years that followed he made good many friends and a name for himself (as a gentleman, inventor and executive) in the field of bird and animal husbandry and care. At various points in his career, Mr. Plitt served as Director of Nutritional Research and Field Services for two of the East's larger grain mills. He is also the originator of Pride of the Valley Wild Bird Food and Kleen Kitty cat litter. Mr. Plitt now raises and trains standard bred horses and keeps a wide variety of other birds and animals on a New York farm. "Poppy George" is now sharing his experience by giving MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers down-to-earth farm advice on the care and feeding of homestead livestock. 

QUESTION: We work oxen, and I'd like to know the proper time to castrate a young bull which is to be used for that purpose. Also, I'm told that if a horse is gelded too young its urinary system doesn't develop fully and may cause problems later. Is this true? 

ANSWER: I'd suggest that you plan to castrate bulls to be used for oxen at about six months of age. The same rule applies to horses.

It's true that geldings sometimes develop urinary problems, but in most cases this is due to carelessness on the part of the operator . . . either in preparation of the animal for the procedure or in sterilization of the instruments used to do the job. Such trouble can be avoided by following the usual sanitary precautions. Any wound, of course, can become infected due to flies, etc., during the summer months. Use common sense during the healing period, and be sure the horse has a tetanus shot for safety's sake.

QUESTION: What are the differences between geldings, colts, and yearlings? 

ANSWER: Suppose I give you the terms used to describe horses at all ages, for future reference:

10/31/2014 10:55:19 AM

Hi there from Western Australia. Great informative site. I am hoping someone there would know the correct term/name/technical nasme when reversing a large team of heavies with the large, 'Hay making style of solid biuild/cart attached. Or any size casrt really. My Dad lost his thumb when backing a large Hay cart into the barn when the lead left hand made an unexplained jump backward and Dad's thumb was between the back of the cart and crushed, For years He told me he used to suck this thumb and wore it away. I also sucked my thumb you see. Look forward to hearing from you.

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