Written by Dr. David Shirbroun, DVM.
With calving season quickly approaching are you ready? Check your supplies and make sure not only that you have everything but everything is in good working order. This is a good time to start thinking about your calving facilities too. You don’t want that first calf to take you by surprise.
For Calving Assistance:
OB sleeves; Lube – essential for pulling a calf. Can be OB lube or mineral oil.
OB Chains and handles – nylon straps can be used but are nearly impossible to sterilize.
Calf puller – meant to assist in pulling only, too much tension may kill calves and possibly cows
The most important thing to remember when pulling calves is safety. Make sure you have some form of cow restraint easily available. If using a halter to restrain the cow tie her head low so if she goes down she isn’t choking. Even the best mannered cow will not willingly stand and allow you to reach inside her to pull a calf. The key to remember with calving is that the animal should be making progress in the calving process every hour. As an example, if an hour passes and a foot is no further out than it was previously, assisting the cow will be necessary. Don’t hesitate to contact a veterinarian if the problem is not easily solved. Backwards deliveries must be done in a quick and efficient manner as the umbilical cord breaks before the calf is able to breathe.
Make sure there is not a second calf inside the cow if giving assistance!
Colostrum; Bottle with nipple and/or Milk tuber (make sure no part is sharp from use)
A calf needs to receive an adequate amount of colostrum in the first 6-12 hours of life. If the calf gets up and nurses its mother soon after birth, there is usually little to worry about. If there is any question about colostrum consumption, either a supplement or replacer should be given in the first 12 hours. A supplement is used if the calf probably got some from the cow, a replacer is used if the calf has not nursed at all. A clean environment for the calf will help lessen disease pressure and get it started right.
Misc. supplies that may be needed:
Syringes and needles; Antibiotics; Oxytocin
Ear tags with tagger; Calving book for due dates and record keeping
Some vaccinations are recommended early in the calf’s life. Talk to a SAC veterinarian for recommendations for your situation. Be on the lookout for scours, the best treatment is hydration, but antibiotics may be needed.