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Cultural Donkey Castration in Kurdistan and Iraq

KOARP frequently come across animals that are experiencing extreme suffering due to traditional cultural methods of castration

A donkey with swollen testes undergoing a castration using traditional methods.

Traditional castration in Kurdistan and Iraq is an old method that typically used rope, wire or silk to cut off the blood supply to the testes and cause them to drop off after several weeks. The procedure is performed without anaesthesia and there is a high risk of infection, blood loss, hernias and death.

The procedure

Donkeys are tied to the ground and a rope or some other material is bound firmly around the testes and body. This material is left on the donkey, puncturing the skin and causing swelling and extreme pain and discomfort. After around 30 days, the testes are extremely swollen, full of blood and fluid, and they become severed where the material is and fall off. If this doesn't happen then the farmer will cut them off with a knife, leaving a large open wound that takes a long time to heal.

Male donkeys are castrated by farmers for a number of reasons, 1) the donkeys become calmer, less aggressive and easier to handle, 2) they are more likely to stay with the other animals and not roam, 3) they are more likely to obey their owners and 4) they will stop following female donkeys during estrus.

Farmers are faced with two options:
1) An evidence based method used by vets
2) A cultural method using rope

Why use this method?

There are several reasons that farmers continue to use this traditional method over safer, more modern methods. Firstly there is a widespread lack of education and awareness among owners, especially in villages, that animals feel pain and have a sense of awareness. Castrations performed by vets are also often prohibitively expensive, and its takes time to take your animal to the vet. Farmers are extremely busy and the traditional method is less time consuming and easier than finding a vet to perform a castration.

The side effects

  • This is a very painful procedure that is conducted without any anaesthesia, causing acute and chronic suffering over several weeks.

  • Farmers do not disinfect their instruments or materials which often leads to extreme inflammation and a delay in wound healing.

  • Controlling the animals for this procedure is very difficult and without anaesthesia they can fall heavily during the struggle, leading to broken bones and injuries for both the donkey and the farmer.

  • Heavy bleeding and hernias commonly accompany this procedure

  • If the bleeding cannot be controlled then the animal can die.

During tours of villages KOARP often come across numerous animals suffering in this way. We do our best treat the animals we can and advise the farmers on the safest and most humane ways of castrating their animals.

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