When it comes to calving time, most cows calve down unassisted. But every now and then, cows will need assistance as will a newborn calf.
Check over the calving aids currently on farm, then replace and stock up on supplies as necessary. Store all aids in the calving shed so they are ready to use when required.
When it comes to putting together a calving aid kit, outlined are five things to include.
1. New calving ropes and a working jack
If calving ropes are hard and soiled, replace them. The same goes with ropes that are frayed.
Calving ropes should be clean and soft at all times. Hard ropes can cut into the calf’s leg and damage the cow internally. Dirty ropes are also a source of infection.
When replacing calving ropes, choose a set that are red and blue rather than a white set. With red and blue ropes, the red rope goes on the right leg and blue on the left.
There is less chance of getting these leg ropes mixed up and attached to the wrong side of the jack before your start to pull.
When it comes to the jack, make sure the ratchet is working properly and the head will pivot freely.
2. Calving lubricants and gloves
Any time you assist the cow or check on the calf, always wear a glove. Wearing a nitrile or latex hand glove over a plastic glove will improve traction when pulling a calf.
Always use a proper obstetric lubricant when putting your hand in the cow. Soap and washing up liquids should never be used to lubricate the calf or cow internally. Stock up on gloves and lubricant now.
3. Stomach tube
Invest in a new stomach tube if the old ones have become scuffed. Never place a scuffed tube down the calf’s throat. Keep the new tube in a clean environment until required.
It is also a good idea to have a second tube that is solely used for feeding sick calves. This means you are not transferring germs from a sick calf to a healthy, newborn calf with no immunity.
4. Head torch
Unfortunately, not all cows will calve in daylight. But even when calving a cow during the day, lighting in some sheds can be poor.
A good LED head torch can be a big help when calving at night or in sheds with limited lighting. It shines directly on the area you are focusing on, which in this case will be the back end of the cow, greatly improving visibility.
5. Phone charger
Having a spare phone charger in the calving shed is also recommended. There will be occasions you are working with a cow on your own when a phone call to a family member, neighbour or vet is needed.
If the phone battery is low, you can charge it and put the call on loudspeaker while you stay and work with a distressed cow or calf.
This is preferable to leaving the shed and trying to locate a charger in the dwelling house in a hurry.