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Calving tips & tales – for Jan. 19, 2009

A simple calving strap

Our calving tip this year is an economical calf-pulling strap, made simply from an Ivomec jug strap. Sew a small loop on each end and pull the strap through to make two adjustable loops. Thee are easily slipped over each calf leg while the centre part is easily grasped without slipping in your hands.

The strap is soft on the calf’s legs. And it’s a washable nylon; just throw it in the washer with your coveralls. Make several and carry one in the calving kit, the glove box in the truck, the four-wheeler, your saddle bag, coveralls, or the pocket of your blue jeans.

The price is right and it could be a life-saver.

Tom and Shirley Morris Devlin, Ont.

A wild run

This happened to me several years ago, but remains clear in my sometimes foggy mind.

It happened one morning when I had to return to the yard for some seed grain. I glanced over to the pasture and here was one of the last-to-calve cows, about five years old, lying on her side trying to calve.

She was thrashing about and bellowing, apparently in stress. I could tell the calf was huge. I tried to get a hold of the calf’s legs. It was presented correctly but she would not let me help her.

She got up and started to run. I followed on a bike.

Well we had quite a merry go round before she headed for the corrals where I could get her into a headgate. This was finally going the right way.

There’s more. She went into the south gate of the corral, through two pens and out the north gate back into the pasture. I had forgot that when we let the last bunch out, we left the gate open. So we were in for another run around in the pasture.

It’s amazing the amount of energy she had. When I walked up to her the first time I would have thought she was dying. Not so.

After about a half hour I was successful in capturing her. (This time I had closed all the gates but one.) I was stiff and sore from bouncing around on the bike and pissed off with the cow so I went to the house for lunch and gave her about 40 minutes to calm down.

After lunch I walked down to the corral and noticed she had a beautiful bull calf (120 pounds ) standing at her side. What a relief. I guess the run around kind of positioned that big calf so she could give birth without assistance. She was always a good mother, but she sure ruined my morning right at seeding time

Bernard Dease Archerwill, Sask.

Feed with a drenching gun

We have a little cow-calf operation in Québec. At calving time, it is really satisfying to see a young calf get up and suck colostrum from his mother. But sometimes, things are not going so well, and we have to feed the calf. Instead of using a calf feeder (2 litres plastic bag with tube), we decided to use an automatic 300 ml drenching gun. This way, we prevent hurting the larynx and the calf swallows by itself. You can order the drenching gun at: SYRVET CANADA INC.(www/ syrvet.com).

Hélne et Pierre Brassard Coaticook, P. Q.

An early morning call

Ring… ring… ring… 5:30 a. m. I instantly recognized the voice on the other end of the phone.

Dr. O, the country veterinarian, often called when he was in the area and needed a hand with a patient. He asked what I was doing, and trying not to sound like I had just been awaken from a deep sleep, I said “nothing.” Doc told me that he needed help with a Simmental heifer that was having a difficult time calving.

He picked me up a short time later and we drove for an hour before we reached a small farm nestled in a grove of pine trees. The producer was quick to beckon our vehicle toward a small hip roofed barn. Dr. O greeted the anxious farmer and introduced me to him. With warm water, soap and towels at the ready the farmer showed us the heifer. She was standing in the corner of a comfortably sized box stall standing hunched and looking relatively uncomfortable. Dr. O washed the heifer and examined her and decided that everything was proceeding normally and that she may just need a little extra help with the delivery.

After many attempts to pull the calf Dr. O gave the heifer a dose of oxytocin with the hopes that it would stimulate her to help push. After another period of pulling and sweating Doc turned to the farmer and said “she will need a caesarean.” I was told to clip the flank and then to clean and scrub the area until Doc and the farmer returned from washing up. I’m pretty sure that other than washing up they likely drank a few coffees and told a few stories as by the time they returned I had nearly scrubbed the poor heifer raw.

Doc began the operation and quickly located the hind legs of the calf, opened the uterus and had the farmer begin to remove the calf. The farmer pulled hard but the calf would not budge. Doc realized that from our earlier attempts to remove the calf it had effectively wedged it in the pelvis. He looked over at me and said “take off your coat and scrub up boy…. You’re going in!” I scrubbed my arms with iodine and nervously approached the cow. I had never done anything like this before and hardly knowing what to do.

Dr. O calmly told me to reach in and push the calf back. I inserted my arm into the heifer and immediately felt the hooves, and then the head and cupping my hand over the calf’s head I gave a forceful push. I was absolutely awestruck. As the calf retreated from my hand the farmer pulling, the calf came out and we laid it across a bale of straw. The calf sputtered and coughed and its eyes suddenly sprung to life.

When all was said and done we had a lunch and the farmer thanked us and we were off. I was eighteen years old at the time and working as a herdsman on a local dairy farm and not thinking too much about the future. Eight years later I graduated from Veterinary school and went into large animal practice. After 10 years in practice I still don’t believe anything has

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