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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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What to consider before beginning the process of delivering a calf

When preparing for palpation, it is important to clean the cow or heifer and work area and remove any manure or debris that could be introduced into the reproductive tract and potentially cause reproductive issues.

That is according to a spokesperson for the Canadian-based Beef Research Council, which has produced a 6-minute explainer video on how to intervene with a difficult calving.

The spokesperson explained that once you have your cow or heifer prepared, you must also prepare yourself, which will include: –

  • Proper hand-washing etiquette;
  • Use of clean, arm-length palpation/calving gloves;
  • Warm soapy water mix with lots of lubricant.

The spokesperson explained that: “Using a bare arm not only puts the cow at risk for infection but also puts the palpator [you] at risk of contracting disease pathogens from the cow.”

Delivering a calf: 

“There are conditions that need to be evaluated before beginning the process of delivering a calf,” they then highlighted before providing the following advice –

  • Firstly, in order for a calf to be delivered – either naturally or assisted – the cervix must be open;
  • If your hand is running into a blind sac, the cervix is not properly open and is not ready for the calf to be born;
  • Once the cervix opens, assess the calf’s positioning;
  • Normal = anterior position – head and two front feet visible or palpable in the birth canal;
  • Backwards = posterior position – tail and two hind feet palpable;
  • The farmer must be able to run a hand between the calf’s body and the cow’s pelvis to ensure it will fit;
  • If you are unable to do this, it is likely that the cow will require veterinary assistance;
  • A calf can be alive or dead – you can usually determine this by placing a finger in the calf’s mouth to squeeze its tongue, or you can touch its eyelids.

Previous farming news articles on That’s Farming:

Note: The purpose of this article is to inform, but it is not a substitute for professional advice – always seek your vet’s expertise.

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