This procedure is carried out in most sheep breeding flocks between 2 and 6 weeks after lambing to remove the tails of the lambs, and to castrate the male lambs. Other procedures often carried out at the same time are earmarking, fly dip application, drenching, Clostridial vaccination. The tails can be removed by a variety of methods, the most common being the application of a tight rubber ring (elastrator ring) or the searing off with a hot iron. An elastrator ring is used on the testicles for castrating. Cutting out the testicles is another, less frequent method. Using a rubber ring to push the testicles up into the inguinal canal (cryptorchid) is sometimes used to render the ram lamb infertile but allowing it to still have the growth pattern of an entire ram.
After 100 years of cutting off tails they are still there, so this is not a preferred option for the prevention of tails. The process of removing the tail can increase the risk of fly strike therefore fly dip should be applied to the treated area. All equipment and materials used for docking should be kept clean. The use of rubber rings increases the risk of Tetanus, therefore lambs should be given protection against this. This can be from colostrum if the ewe is vaccinated just before lambing, or it can be given as an anti tetanus injection given at docking.
When tails are cut off with a hot iron, the application of an antiseptic/fly solution to the tail stump may assist repair.