Whether calving is approaching or you are deep into the hustle of the season, having the necessary equipment clean and ready to use minimizes stress in the chaos.

In a perfect world, preparing to assist an animal in labour should be wasted effort, but rarely does an entire calving season pass where intervention is not needed.

Producers should consider the list of items below as useful items to have available: 

  • High-powered flashlight fully charged or with extra batteries on hand to check during the dark hours of the night.
  • Disposable examination and obstetrics gloves that fit you to minimize transfer of disease between you and the cow.
  • Device for the transport of warm water.
  • Antiseptic soap to use with the warm water to clean the work area, tools, etc.
  • Lubricant helps everything move along.
  • Obstetric chains and handles. Practice attaching the chains with the double half hitch.
  • A method of restraint. Maternity pens with head gates are great but even a lariat and post can be useful.
  • Mechanical puller to use with the obstetrics chains. Remember the significant mechanical advantage this creates and use with appropriate force. Time the effort to match the cow’s contractions.
  • Program your veterinarian’s contact information into your phone, your partner’s phone, the hired hand’s phone and write it down beside the house phone.

Other items that are highly beneficial include but are not limited to:

  • High-resolution security cameras with night vision function and pan capacity shorten the time required to conduct night checks.
  • Yard lights makes it easier to see what is happening.
  • Head snare to assist in bringing a head around into the birth canal.
  • Sheltered space. A roof and walls help minimize the harsh impact weather can have on the people assisting with the birth.
  • Internet access – for the “how to” videos, especially beefresearch.ca Calf 911 – How to intervene with a difficult calving.

Knowing when and how to assist your birthing livestock is an important livestock husbandry skill.

Additional resources may be obtained by contacting your veterinarian or local livestock and feed extension specialist or by calling the Agriculture Knowledge Center at 1-866-457-2377.