Beef Cattle Calving Assistance
A knowledgeable beef cattle breeder will always be ready and
prepared for calving assistance wen the need arises.
Normal delivery in cattle should be completed within 2 hours
after the water sac appears. If prolonged, the calf may be born dead or in a weakened condition. Since timing is
vital to providing proper assistance, frequent observations are a must. Assisted deliveries should not be attempted
without proper preparation of facilities and equipment. A clean, well-lighted maternity pen and clean pulling
chains and equipment are desirable to reduce bacterial contamination.
It is always best to first check with your veterinarian for advice
on when to assist the cow alone and when to call him. Since cervical dilation is completed in Stage 2, assistance
can be given too early. However, since final dilation is quite rapid, assistance is often given too late, which is
much more serious.
Cleanliness cannot be overemphasized. Introduction of bacteria by equipment or arms of
the person assisting with the calving may reduce fertility of the cow by delaying return to estrus and lowering
conception. Equipment needs are two clean buckets, soap (for cleaning the cow), disinfectant, obstetrical
lubricant, paper towels, calving chains and handles and plastic sleeves. Have water in both buckets -- disinfectant
is added to the second bucket. Place the calving chains and handles in the disinfectant solution.
Restrain the cow with head catch or halter. Tie the tail with light twine to the neck
of the cow. Scrub the perineal area (around the anus and vulva) and the tail with soapy water. Pour water from the
bucket to rinse the area. Do not dip dirty towels back into the bucket. When the area is clean, dry with paper
towels. Use the remainder of the water in the first bucket to wash your hands and arms. If possible use plastic
sleeves on initial examination. This may prevent contact with abortion-causing organisms that can infect humans.
Apply an obstetrical lubricant to the sleeves. If extensive manipulation of the fetus is needed, the gloves may be
removed since they tear easily.