Jim Ryan milks 150 cows along with his father in Cashel, Co Tipperary. The idea for his invention came about after suffering back damage during calving a few years ago.

Jim explains that when assisting a cow to calve, it’s often the farmer’s back which incurs the stress when pulling.

Jim set about designing a tool which he could use to take the pressure off his back and allow him to use the power of his legs when helping to calve.

After much trial and error last year, the result was Calving Assist. His invention scooped the Agri-Safety Award at this year’s Innovation Arena.

How it works

Jim says that his invention works by attaching the rope to the front legs of the calf, while wrapping the harness around the user’s sacral area.

The ropes, which are attached to the calf, are then attached to the hooks which, in turn, are attached to the handles of the harness.

The user then leans back and uses leg strength as opposed to the back strength to calve the cow.

Tipperary dairy farmer Jim Ryan developed a simple yet innovative belt to help protect farmers lower back while calving. Here he receives his award from James Maloney, Enterprise Ireland.

The device has two metal grapples to hold the calving ropes in place.

A key feature of the Calving Assist is a quick-release lever which the user can pull to release the belt in the event that they need to get out of the way in a hurry.

The belt can hold approximately 1.3t in weight and is designed to be in position over the user’s glutes, protecting the lower back in the process.

“The release mechanism is made of stainless steel, and the harness is made of the same material used on safety belts in a car so that it will not break,” Jim explains.

Market launch

After a slow start, the Calving Assist rose to fame after Jim posted a demonstration video on YouTube which currently has 16,000 views.

Jim has partnered with the Farm Relief Service in Cahir to manufacture and distribute the product which can be bought in store or online at https://frsdirect.ie/product/calving-assist/

Company profile

  • Name: Calving Assist.
  • Location: Tipperary.
  • Founded: 2021.
  • 2021 Innovation Award: Agri-Safety Award.