And we are headed for calving season. I have already had a couple start calving.
To prepare for calving season everyone needs to make sure they have a way that is easy for them and the cattle to catch them up. We do not want to have to take all day or night to catch a cow in trouble trying to have her baby. This lot needs to be clean and dry if possible.
If you have a chute in the lot, then it needs to be in working order. This can be done by spraying WD-40 on all of the proper joints and hinges. Then put some 80 weight oil on those joints, it will last a lot longer than the WD-40.
Next if you are going to try and help your mommas, you need either Nebraska calf straps or obstetric chains. These tools need to be clean and ready to go. A bucket and a bottle of liquid soap, for scrubbing the cow before going inside. This will eliminate most of the uterine infection later after calving. It will also help your cow later to breed back for the next year. I would recommend any liquid soap. This soap can also be used for lube while delivering.
Now for rules of thumb while watching cows having babies; we give cows three hours from the time they break water to produce a calf on the ground. Once we see parts of the calf then you should forget that rule of three hours and only give her 30 to 45 minutes to produce the calf on the ground.
If this is a heifer calving then we will give her up to four hours from breaking water to produce a calf on the ground. If we see parts of the calf with a heifer then the same rule for cows applies, (30-45 minutes to produce a calf on the ground).
Normally with these rules of thumb I have still had clients call me and we delivered a live calf most of the time. Every situation is different and may have a different set of problems during delivery. About the time I think I have seen it all, I will get thrown a new curve or knuckle ball.
If you have a calf jack, please, use it properly. Keep the breech plate up right at the bottom of the vulva so you have the best pulling angle with the least amount of force on the cow and calf. This will actually give you more torque.
Also, please pull just like the cow pushes the calf out; NOT straight down immediately. Until the feet are outside you need to pull slightly up at a 10 degree angle. Then pull straight out until the shoulders are delivered. You can gently push downward some or tease down just to ease the forehead through the vagina and vulva, but then again straight out. When the shoulders are out a live calf will rotate about 45 to 90 degrees, (this is normal and needs to happen). NOW you pull down while the calf is starting to rotate. The calf’s hips are the widest part after the head and shoulders and the widest part of the cows pelvis is at a diagonal. This is why the calf rotates, easier to get the hips through the pelvis.