· Be kind and gentle.
· Immobilise her somewhere safe for her and you.
· Wash the dung from around her vagina and tail, with disinfectant.
· Using plenty of lube on your arms, establish whether the cervix is dilated, and how big the calf “seems”
· Establish which way the calf is coming. If there is no head, remember that the fetlock and “knee” on the front leg bend the same way, the fetlock and hock bend in opposite directions. Beware - elbows can feel just like hocks!
· Check that all parts you are feeling belong to the same calf.
· Insert 4-5 litres of warm water and lube. Use a big syringe, or manual pump.
· If you need to rearrange legs, make sure you keep one hand over the claws, to avoid them ripping the uterus. If you need to move a head, keep one hand over the mouth so the calf’s teeth can’t do the same thing. You may need to gently push the calf back into the cow to do this.
· If using a rope on a live calf’s head, make sure it is in the mouth and behind the ears, not around the throat, strangling the calf. This rope is for maintaining the calf’s head in the correct position, not for hauling on!
· If you can’t achieve what you’re trying in 10 minutes, call for help, or try another approach.
· Use clean ropes and chains.
· Don’t start to pull until you have the head and front legs in the correct position (or the back legs, with the tail down).
· Pull slowly; give the cow time to stretch, and work with her.
· Pull down, as well as out, the way a calf would fall if born unassisted. If using a jack, use gentle downwards pressure on the bar to ease the calf out, and crank the handle to take up the slack. If you are using a pulley, anchor it near to the ground.
· Don’t pull with all your might. Don’t tighten the jack beyond what is reasonable. Don’t have two people on a pulley rope. If it doesn’t want to come, don’t force it.
· Roll the calf length-ways as the front comes out, to line the calf’s hips at 45o to the cow’s pelvis.
· Check the calf’s airway is clear, and rub the calf vigorously to stimulate breathing. Use the pressure point on the top gum, and swing or hang the calf to drain the lungs if necessary.
· Clean your arms, check the cow for internal damage and always always check for a twin.
· Don’t pull the membranes if they are not ready to come on their own.
· Give the cow a starter drench, and add her to your “At Risk Cow” list for checking in three weeks. She has a high chance of developing a uterine infection.
· Any problems? Call your vet straight away!
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