When it comes to assisting cows during labour, experience and keeping calm make a big difference in getting live calves on the ground.

Every herd differs and, as such, every farmer has their own view on when to step in and deliver a calf.

In the majority of cases, cows in fit condition will calve on their own if given enough time to make progress.

For mature cows calving to a tried and tested stock bull or AI sire, once the water bag is out, check the feet and head are in the correct position and the calf doesn’t feel abnormally big.


If everything is properly presented, leave the cow to calve on her own. If no progress is being made within two hours from the water bag passing, step in. Reduce to one hour for heifers.

If there is a problem with presentation and further intervention is needed, early action or call to the vet increases the chances of getting a live calf on the ground.

New bull

When a new stock bull or AI sire has been used on the herd, it is understandable that farmers want to step in to assist the first few cows for peace of mind.

Once you are more confident the bull is not throwing big calves, then allow cows to calve naturally.

The other times farmers like to step in is late at night or first thing in the morning. Assisting the cow at night allows the farmer to go to bed knowing the calf has been delivered, licked and is standing for a feed.

When doing the first check in the morning and a cow is seen with the calf’s feet out, it is hard to know how long the cow has been calving. Stepping in to deliver the calf again gives peace of mind.

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