With difficulty calving affecting around five per cent of a herd each calving season, and being associated with approximately 50 per cent of calf mortality cases at birth, it is critical to both animal welfare and farm profitability for a farmer to have the knowledge and equipment to assist a calving cow if necessary.
Cases of calving difficulties, or dystocia, can be reduced in the herd by carefully managing genetics and animal condition, but occasional calving problems are inevitable. To give cow and calf the best chance of health and survival the farmer is the first port of call to assess the situation and decide on the best course of action.
There are obvious circumstances in which veterinary assistance is necessary, but once a farmer has determined he can proceed with an assisted delivery without veterinary assistance, best practice states calving jacks or pulleys may be used in conjunction with ropes or chains to assist a calving cow.
Whakatane agricultural engineering firm The Wrangler is best known for its flagship product, the Wrangler cow handler, but it also has a secret weapon when it comes to calving – the Wrangler calving attachment.
The attachment is easily connected to the Wrangler frame and swivels so the cow can enter the crush. Once she is loaded and secure, the calving rope is attached to the calf’s front legs and, working with the cow and her contractions, and the existing Wrangler winches, the calf is gently but firmly pulled from the cow.
Using the Wrangler calving attachment means the farmer has both hands free for calving assistance, with no equipment on the cow getting in the way. The calving attachment is also ideal used on the Premier Wrangler as a mobile calving crush in the paddock.
With cases of dystocia putting cow and calf health at risk, and consequently farm profitability, the Wrangler calving attachment gives cows experiencing calving difficulties the best possible chance to make a full recovery, with a healthy calf.
Careful management and selection of genetics by using an appropriate sire to ensure heifers do not calve an oversized calf.
- Ensure heifers have adequate nutrition in the pre-pubertal and post-pubertal phases of growth, and calve at 85 per cent of their mature body weight with a body condition score of 4.5-5.5
- Ensure cows do not have an excessive body condition score (>5.5), as fat deposited around the birth canal reduces the space within the pelvis.
- Cows with milk fever (hypocalcaemia) can experience weak or absent uterine contractions, which can prolong birth and result in a dead calf.