I ued to be a "knife only" guy but with help becoming more and more of an issue, I have gone to using bands on new born calves. On calves that just aren't good enough at weaning, I still use the knife. The burdizzo should never have been invented and it's inventor should have received jail time. When we were feeding cattle, it was always a sick feeling to check a steer on arrival and to find that he had been pinched and done poorly. The only thing worse than cutting a calf that has been pinched with Burdizzo's first is trying to cut a bull calf that someone has implanted with Ralgro. PLEASE>>>> NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER give a male calf Ralgro if he is not being castrated at the same time. If you have ever tried to castrate one of these, you will know what I am talking about. I am not sure what causes this, but everything seems to grow together and it is extremely hard to get a good job without excessive bleeding. These calves seem to also suffer more and are off feed longer as well. Normally castrated calves by the knife seldom looked back and went onto feed easily. As long as I live, I will always remember hearing my father groan when he went to cut a male calf and realized it had received Ralgro previously. It really is hard to describe, but I guarantee you will know it when you see one.
On a related note, you aren't doing your heifers, yourself, or anyone else who owns them, any favours if you plan on breeding them, if you implant with Ralgro. One implant is not real bad..... two is bad ... three implants is total disaster..... and NONE is the best. I had lots of experience with this when we were feedloting cattle. I know of one purebred breeder who routinely implants his heifers with Ralgro, and I for one, will not buy breeding stock from him. Thye may be just fine, but I don't see the need to have to find out if they are or not.