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One of the most preventable and unfortunate reasons for losing a calf, is not being prepared. Having the right equipment on hand to help you and your animal deliver a healthy calf is also the easiest way to make calving a successful and enjoyable experience for the cow, the calf and the handlers.
While we would all prefer for our animals to comfortably deliver their calves without any assistance, there are times when this is not possible. There are many reasons why a cow many not be able to deliver her calf safely which is why best practice is to monitor and support your animal throughout this often challenging and risky time.
One of the factors that can really help ensure a smooth and save delivery is keeping the birth canal well lubricated. Keeping a bottle of obstetric lubricant on hand is essential at this point, especially while examining the position of the calf. A lubricant pump can also be hugely helpful for applying a larger volume of lubricant during difficult deliveries.
When we talk about taking that next step in helping a cow deliver her calf safely, there are really two options available. Starting with specifically designed ropes or changes with proper calving handles will allow you to give some assistance in the later stages of the birth process. The advantage of these tools is that they are designed to minimise harm to the calf, are incredibly durable and are a cost effective way to aide calving.
The second option is a significantly larger investment initially but will save you hours of straining and hopefully save your animal. Owning a good quality calving jack or calf puller is very worthwhile and it should last you a life-time. Models that include a bracket for hanging the device to the cow’s flank are much easier to use, and allow you full control even if the cow lies down during the delivery. Once attached you can ease the calf out carefully, checking and adjusting as you go.
Out of any of the essential jobs expected by a farmer, being well prepared for any outcome during calving is probably the most critical. It is important for all farmers to have a good range of tools and systems to help everyone support the safe delivery of their calves no matter what the circumstances and situation. For the less experienced, some lubricant, ropes and handles is ideal. For the more experienced, then certainly a lubricant pump and calf puller is essential.
As long as you a prepared for any eventuality, then you should be able to see all your animals deliver their calves safely.