A crash course in calving

Some top tips to help assisted calvings go more smoothly.

Calving time is round the corner and, while we hope most cows will successfully calve unassisted, it pays to be prepared to step in when necessary.

Here are some top tips to help you navigate calving difficulties:

1. If you are assisting a cow to calve and have made no progress after 10 minutes, call your vet for a hand.

2. Head ropes - never place the rope around just the calf's jaw, as this pulls in the wrong direction and can break the jaw if the calf is alive. Instead, place the rope behind the ears and through the mouth. Getting the rope behind BOTH ears is the biggest factor in getting a head back calf facing the right way again.

3. Leg ropes - always loop the chain above the fetlock and place a half hitch below it. This reduces the chance of breaking the calf's leg.

4. Two legs and no head? How do you tell if it is coming forwards or backwards?

  • Front legs - the bottom two joints of the leg (fetlock and knee) bend in the same direction, forming a C shape)

  • Back legs - the fetlock and hock bend in the opposite direction, forming a Z shape.

5. A prolapsed uterus is an emergency! Call us right away. Keep the cow calm and clean until we arrive. Grab a couple of buckets of warm water. If she is down in the paddock, don’t give any metabolics until we arrive (if she jumps up and runs away the uterus can tear which can cause her to bleed out).

6. Always check for SPARES and TEARS after calving. Even if you pull twins, check for a third….you never know.

7. Only give butocin AFTER you have calved a cow.

8. Vets love warm water, especially on those cool spring mornings!