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.
Before calving season starts, do a “walk-through” of pens, chutes, and calving stalls. Make sure that all are clean dry, strong, safe, and functioning correctly. This is a lot easier to do on a sunny afternoon than a dark night when you need them.
Protocol: 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 you need help. Make 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 your local veterinarian about your protocol and incorporate his/her suggestions. Below is an example of a “Calving Protocol” that could be laminated and hung in the barn or calving shed. Note: this is just an example. You may wish to include other important steps in the protocol. Encourage everyone that will be watching and helping cows and heifers this calving season to read Oklahoma State University Extension Circular E-1006, “Calving Time Management for Beef Cows and Heifers”.
Lubrication: Many lubricants have been used and one of the best lubricants is probably the simplest: non detergent soap and warm water.
Supplies: The stockmen should always have in their medicine chest the following: disposable obstetrical sleeves, non- irritant antiseptic, lubricant, obstetrical chains (60 inch and/or two 30 inch chains), two obstetrical handles, mechanical calf pullers and injectable antibiotics. Also have a tincture of iodine solution that can be used to treat navels of newborns shortly after birth. Don’t forget the simple things like a good flashlight and extra batteries and some old towels or a roll of paper towels.
It may be helpful for you to have all these things and other items you may want to include packed into a 5 gallon bucket to make up a “calving kit” so you can grab everything at once. Place that bucket in a location that can be found and reached by everyone in the operation.
You may want to have a printed copy of a “Calving Protocol” for anyone involved in the operation to have access to with the following information:
1. Who to call: Phone numbers of your animal clinic, veterinarian, and emergency contact numbers.
2. You may want to list any instructions as how long to wait before giving assistance to the cow. Heifers will need a little more time to complete calving from what a cow will need.
3. Where to find the calving kit and procedure for assisting the birth such as using plenty of lube or soap and water.
4. Determine that cervix is dilated and calf is coming head and both front feet first. If you don’t see all three you may need to call for help.
5. Do not begin pulling until the cervix is completely dilated.
6. Apply a quarter turn of the fetus will help the hips go past the pelvic bones.
7. Backwards calf must be delivered within 4 minutes after calf’s tail appears.
8. Briskly tickle nostril of calf with stiff straw to start breathing.
9. Clean chains and handles and replace calving kit
If you have any questions, or would like further information on this or other related management topics, visit us on the west end of the Clay Jones Community Building at 1901 S. 9th Avenue in Durant, or call (580) 924-5312.
The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.
February 4-5, Choctaw Nation Livestock Show, Bryan County Fairgrounds and EOSC Campus. Entry forms can be found on the Choctaw Nation website and are due by January 25.
February 23-25, Bryan County Junior Livestock Show, Bryan County Fairgrounds. Premium Sale will be on February 27.
April 6, 2017 – Eastern Oklahoma Beef Cattle Summit, Southeast Oklahoma Expo Center, McAlester, OK. Pre-registration required by March 30 and cost is $10. A registration form is available at the Extension Office or you can call the Pittsburg Extension Office at 918-423-4120.
Robert Bourne is a Bryan County Extension Educator.