Although the spring calving season is still a couple of months away, now is a good time to make the necessary preparations that will come in handy when the first heifer needs help in the middle of the night. Here are some tasks that should be easier to do now when the there is ample time to get the job done.
• Equipment: 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 on a cold dark night when you need them.
• Protocol: 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 the local livestock veterinarian about the protocol and incorporate his/her suggestions. Your veterinarian will be a lot more helpful when you have an emergency during the kids’ school program if you have talked a few times during regular hours.
• Lubrication: Purchase or locate lubricants to use on the obstetrical sleeves. Many different lubricants have been used and one of the best lubricants is probably the simplest – non-detergent soap and warm water.
• Supplies: The stockman should always have in his medicine chest the following: disposable obstetrical sleeves, non-irritant antiseptic, lubricant, obstetrical chains (60 inch and/or two 30 inch chains), two obstetrical handles, mechanical calf pullers, and injectable antibiotics. Do not forget the simple things like a good flashlight with 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 5 gallon bucket to make up an obstetrical kit so you can grab everything at once.
These ideas and many more are available in the Oklahoma State University Extension publication: Calving Time Management for Beef Cows and Heifers; E-1006. http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-5171/E-1006web.pdf