Calving kit and prep for first calf

We are expecting the first calf in early March (this is our Jersey’s second calf). She’s currently dry, with free-choice minerals (1:1), seaweed and salt.

To help prevent milk fever, we will take her off alfalfa hay at the 6 weeks pre-calving. I’ve heard apple cider vinegar (2 oz twice a day 2 weeks before calving) helps regulate calcium - but no evidence that this actually works.

What else should we do to prep her?
What should we have on-hand as a “calving kit”?

I don’t personally know the answer to this, but I’ll try and get someone on here that can answer that.

it would be help full to have some bottles of calcium on hand. it is worse in high producers and older animals. to be save give one bottle right after calving. for a calving kit if it is one cow don’t worry about it but for some one that calves more it should have 1 something to pull the calve if need be. 2 cloves, make that one. 3 a place to contain the cow if needed. 4 some times a milk bottle to feed calve.

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Hi Paul! Thank you! You mean GLOVES (not cloves), right?

Here are 15 different calf pullers (excluding ropes and chains). What do you recommend for Jerseys? For Angus?

For a cow who has calved previously- Angus or Jersey- you shouldn’t need anything- or very little- I suggest a basic one - a must have- is simply two three foot ropes( preferably with a loop on the end) and a broom handle- possibly a longer rope then you could utilize your shoulders more-
the ones you are looking at are for extreme cases- the puller needs to lock properly on the hips and not move- it is more difficult to use- we have used one very little-( mostly with the Holsteins).The puller should be able to hoist upwards to drain the calfs mouth in case he is backwards-

It is more important how you pull( with the cows contractions) no matter what you use- this is especially important with the mechanical version…More than likely you will go out to the barn and a baby will be standing suckiling his mom!

Hopefully you have had the calf and the birth was uneventful. I raise heritage beef cattle. In my experience if you take care of nutrition, basic shelter etc, and the bull isn’t too large, you should not have any problems. The big thing is to get the cow into a secure area prior to birthing so if something does go wrong, the vet can quickly capture and address the issue. I have had many births here and very few were emergencies. Keep the cow sheltered, on clean bedding. Have iodine on hand for the umbilical cord and give a selenium injection when first born to prevent smooth muscle disease as soils in Ontario are low in this mineral. I live to leave well enough alone. Once you intervene, the need for interventions escalates. Watch the mom. Once in active labour, check every 1/2 hour for progress. If you don’t see it, that is the time for some concern. Keep mom and calf separate for 5 days so they can bond. Make sure the calf is up and nursing within a couple of hours so that the colostrum window is reached. Best wishes.

Hi Michele. Thanks for the tips. Since 2017, we’ve had a few calves - all very successfully and follow similar tips to the ones you listed.

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Hi all, jumping in about calf pulling - this is something that can cause uterine prolapse (you all probably know this already, but for anyone reading who doesn’t) It’s a good idea to do some research or consult your vet about when it’s necessary to pull a calf. A tidbit from my days as an animal bio student way back when :stuck_out_tongue: