If you have a fall calving season in your beef operation, the first thing to do to prepare for it is to walk through your pens and chutes and make sure everything is in working order. You don’t want to discover your cattle chute is not working at midnight when a heifer is calving. It is a good idea to assume you are going to have some calving problems and decide how you are going to handle the problem when it occurs. Dr. Glenn Self from Oklahoma State Extension says that getting a calving kit together is a good idea and I agree as long as you have experience and training using these tools.
You need experience using a mechanical calf puller as pulling incorrectly can damage the calf and the cow. You need to make sure you are using the calf puller correctly and applying chains correctly and it is a good idea to have your bovine veterinarian train you on the use of the puller. These are powerful instruments and I have seen cows severely traumatized and calf legs broken due to incorrect use. You need to know how to apply chains and when you can apply pressure to extract the calf and when you cannot. Also, you need to know when to stop and call your vet because a c-section may be needed and you do not want to damage the calf trying to deliver it with the calf puller when a c-section could save the calf’s life. The calving kit should contain obstetrical gloves, obstetrical chains, obstetrical handles, a mechanical calf puller, a gentle antiseptic and an obstetrical lubricant. Gentle iodine, not tincture of iodine, can be added to water at about 20 mls per gallon to disinfect calving equipment. Although Dr. Selk recommends non-detergent soap and water as a lubricant, your vet can order a much better one for you that will make the job easier.