Calving Checklist

Author: Kristy

Get ready now for one of the busiest times of the year.

Before the start of calving season, it helps to have everything on hand that might be needed and to have all facilities and equipment functional and ready for use. If you have a fertile and efficient herd with a short breeding/calving season, it may have been more than 10 months since last year’s calving; your mind and efforts have been directed at other tasks. Some calves may arrive ahead of schedule, so you might not want to wait until the last minute to get the machinery out of the calving barn or maternity pen, or to find that new box of obstetrics (OB) gloves you bought last year.


You may not have used your calf puller, or a halter and rope, for a couple of years, but it pays to remember where you left these things, just in case. It’s frustrating to be rummaging around in the middle of the night trying to find what you need when a heifer decides to calve three weeks ahead of your start date and needs help. Even more frustrating is when you find what you are looking for, only to discover that it is broken and needs to be repaired or replaced.


Here’s a suggested list of things to have on hand:

  • Halter and rope
  • Disposable long-sleeve OB gloves
  • Obstetrical lubricant in a squeeze bottle
  • Plastic bucket for wash water and/or plastic squeeze bottles for wash water
  • Rags for washing the cow
  • Clean OB chains and handles
  • Calf-puller
  • Oxytocin and epinephrine
  • Suction bulb for suctioning fluid from nostrils of newborn calf that’s not breathing
  • Iodine or chlorhexadine for disinfecting navel stump of newborn calves
  • Flashlight (with batteries that work!)
  • Injectable broad-spectrum antibiotics for cows/calves, prescribed by your vet
  • Sterile syringes and needles
  • Bottles and nipples
  • Stomach tube (nasogastric tube) or esophageal feeder for feeding a newborn calf that can’t nurse, and a different one for giving fluid to sick calves
  • Frozen colostrum from last year or a package of commercial colostrum replacer
  • Electrolytes
  • Tool box to hold/carry needed items in one handy place
  • Calf sled for transporting a newborn calf from the pasture to the barn, if necessary


Make sure the calf puller works and that you cleaned up the esophageal feeder since the last time you used it — or buy a new one! The bottles, nipples, feeders, OB chains, etc., should be cleaned and in the house, not hanging out in the barn somewhere. It seems like sometimes the things we used last are still out in the barn or shed. Calving ended, and they didn’t get cleaned up, gathered or put away for the next year.

Posted in In The Industry |

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