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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Farm Vet’s Corner: Why you should not swing or hang a calf over a gate

Vets have strongly advised against hanging a calf over a gate or swinging it by its hindleg, but have encouraged farmers to place the animal in what is known as the calf recovery position instead if necessary.

As one vet previously explained in an interview with That’s Farming, swinging or hanging a calf over a gate, which can be a traditional practice on some farms, “can actually do more harm than good”.

Dr. Claire Windeyer – vet, professor and researcher at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, said during one of Beef Research’s webinar:

“In vet school, we were taught that hanging a calf by its hind end is a no-no. It is important that we change this practice.”

“People have looked at this and have figured out that hanging calves upside-down has negative impacts on the calf.”


What actually happens is when you suspend them upside down, gravity comes into play, and their guts press down on their diaphragm, which actually compresses the lungs.

She said that this, in turn, means that calves are fighting against additional weight as they try and expand their lungs, making it much harder for them to breathe.

The vet continued: “I think this practice came out of the fact that when you hang them upside-down, you see all this nice fluid drain out of their mouth and nose.”

“You think you are really getting that fluid out of the lungs, but what they have figured out is, the truth is the fluid is coming from the stomach, so you are not actually clearing those lungs.”

“You are actually making it harder for them calves to breathe. So, we really want to encourage people not to hang calves over gates,” she concluded.

This then begs the question: What should we do instead?

  • Place them in the calf recovery position;
  • Place straw in nose;
  • Rub vigorously;
  • Water in ear.

That’s Farming will publish a follow-up article on how to perform the calf recovery position.

Previous article on calving: Calf recovery position & baby powder power

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