Before the hustle and bustle of the spring calving season, now is a good time to put together the supplies and equipment that will be needed to assist heifers and cows that need help at calving time.
Hopefully someone in the operation has already done a “walk-through” of pens, chutes and calving stalls. Ensure all are clean, dry, strong, safe and functioning correctly. That’s a lot easier to do on a sunny afternoon than a dark night when a calf is coming.
Before calving season starts develop a plan of what to do, when to do it, who to call for help -- along with phone numbers -- and how to know when help is needed. Be sure all family members or helpers are familiar with the plan. It may help to write it out and post copies in convenient places. Talk to a veterinarian about the protocol and incorporate his/her suggestions. Print out the “Calving Protocol” and laminate it before hanging in the barn or calving shed.
Many lubricants have been used. One of the best lubricants is probably the simplest – non-detergent dish soap and warm water.
Producers should always have certain materials in their medicine chests.
- disposable obstetrical sleeves
- non- irritant antiseptic
- obstetrical chains – 60-inch and/or two 30-inch chains
- two obstetrical handles
- mechanical calf pullers
- tincture of iodine solution that can be used to treat navels of newborns shortly after birth
- good flashlight
- extra batteries
- old towels or a roll of paper towels
It may be helpful to have all those items packed into a 5-gallon bucket to create a “calving kit” so everything can be grabbed at once. Place that bucket in a location that can be found and reached by everyone in the operation.
Glenn Selk is an emeritus animal scientist for Oklahoma State University-Extension. Visit extension.okstate.edu for more information.