Before the hustle and bustle of the fall calving season, now is a good time to put together the supplies and equipment that will be needed to assist heifers and cows that need help at calving time.
Before calving season starts, do a “walk-through” of pens, chutes, and calving stalls. Make sure that all are clean dry, strong, safe, and functioning correctly. This is a lot easier to do on a sunny afternoon than a dark night when you need them.
Before calving season starts, develop a plan of what to do, when to do it, who to call for help (along with phone numbers), and how to know when you need help. Make sure all family members or helpers are familiar with the plan. It may help to write it out and post copies in convenient places.
Talk to your local veterinarian about your protocol and incorporate his/her suggestions.
Many lubricants have been used and one of the best lubricants is probably the simplest: non detergent dish soap and warm water.
The stockmen should always have in their medicine chest the following: disposable obstetrical sleeves, non-irritant antiseptic, lubricant, obstetrical chains (60 inch and/or two 30-inch chains), two obstetrical handles and mechanical calf pullers.
Also have a tincture of iodine solution that can be used to treat navels of newborns shortly after birth. Don’t forget the simple things like a good flashlight and extra batteries and some old towels or a roll of paper towels.
It may be helpful for you to have all these things and other items you may want to include packed into a five-gallon bucket to make up a “calving kit” so you can grab everything at once. Place that bucket in a location that can be found and reached by everyone in the operation. — Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist