When assisting with a difficult birth, stainless steel obstetrical chains are often considered the best tool for the job. They are strong, long lasting and easy to clean. But with especially troublesome pulls, veterinarians and producers alike have found that even with proper placement of chains a calf’s legs can be broken by the power of the traction necessary to pull the calf.

Rande Blanchard, veterinarian at Elm Valley Veterinary Clinic in Elmwood, Wis., suggests using straps instead of chains.

"I’ve had to pull some calves that came very hard. Using chains, even wrapped correctly as shown, I used to break quite a few little legs," admits Dr. Blanchard. "I switched to straps many years ago and haven’t broken a leg since."

When using straps on the legs of the calf, Dr. Blanchard points out that you still have to wrap the legs correctly to prevent injury to the calf’s legs as well as injury to the vaginal wall of the cow.

The straps used by Dr. Blanchard come in 30-inch and 60-inch lengths. They cost about $3 to $4 and can be found in a NASCO catalog.