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Offline GLZ

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Pulling calves - how long to wait
« on: March 25, 2008, 11:22:36 AM »
How long do you normally wait before deciding to pull a calf?  How long do you let the cow or heifer try on her own?  I realize every cow is different, however do you have a general rule you try to follow?  I always struggle with deciding when exactly to pull one.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2008, 11:25:07 AM by StillLearning »

Offline CAB

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2008, 11:33:32 AM »
  Rule of thumb, 1 to 11/2 hour after you see the water bag. Better rule, it's better too early than too late.

Offline Jill

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2008, 11:34:20 AM »
When we have feet and the water bag has broken we assist

Offline Longway Ranch - SK, Canada

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2008, 12:01:45 PM »
Why would you assist if the feet are out and the bag is broken?  The cow hasnt even had time to try by herself yet??

Rule of thumb is 1/2 hour with a cow (AFTER the water has broken), and 1 hour or slightly more for a heifer.  Heifers are "first timers" so it will take them a bit longer.  Cows should already know what is going on, and have a larger pelvic area, etc.  If your mature cow is straining quite a bit early on, then it will most definately be a pull.

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Offline Jill

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2008, 12:07:32 PM »
Why would you assist if the feet are out and the bag is broken?  The cow hasnt even had time to try by herself yet??

Rule of thumb is 1/2 hour with a cow (AFTER the water has broken), and 1 hour or slightly more for a heifer.  Heifers are "first timers" so it will take them a bit longer.  Cows should already know what is going on, and have a larger pelvic area, etc.  If your mature cow is straining quite a bit early on, then it will most definately be a pull.



We don't take any chances at our house, a live calf is worth a lot more than a dead one.

Offline Olson Family Shorthorns

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2008, 12:24:33 PM »
I agree with most things said here.  We really try not to assist cows, but if the hooves are out for more than an hour and a half with NO progress, we go ahead and help a little.  Rarely do we have to get the chains out.  Usually when we help, it's just a little bit of a tug on the feet in the right direction when the cow pushes. Either that or it's got a foot back or something.  Of course, if we come home and see feet sticking out for God knows how long, we assist...just to be on the safe side.   We rarely have to assist though, and we like it that way.

Heifers-  I thought that we would have to help heifers A LOT more when we started to breed a little clubby.  I guessed wrong so far.  Our heifers calve on their own just as much as our cows do.  Last year all of our heifers calved unassisted..only about a half dozen, but still not bad. 

Bottom Line

Cows- Assist when no progress has been made for 1 1/2 hours, or you see something that isn't right (Breech, one leg out but not the other, that sort of thing). More times than not, our cows have the calves within 45 minutes of having the hooves out, but that might just be us.

Heifers- Assist when no progress has been made for 45 minutes or so after the feet are out.  ( I know, pre mature for some, but getting that first calf out is pretty important to me)
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Offline Longway Ranch - SK, Canada

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2008, 12:32:51 PM »
Yes, but just because the water bag is broken, this doesnt mean she is fully dialated.  Some heifers take 2 hours after their water breaks to be fully dialated.  Its like your squeeze ketchup bottle being plugged.  You are going to try a lot harder to get some ketchup, and you might hurt yourself doing it.
You can actually kill a calf (crush his skull/push hard on his soft skull) from pulling TOO early.  The pelvis of a heifer or cow actually has a slight point at the very top, where the top of the calf's head normally passes when coming normally.  If the cow isnt fully dialated you can kill the calf by forcing his head past that point.  Usually this happens when you use a calf puller (calf-jack).  You must realize the amount of shear force these calf pullers have.  They pull with over 800lbs of force.  Two human beings pull with only about 150-200lbs.  Unless you are physically hanging off the cow you CAN NOT pull with your full bodyweight.  
It is wise to be able to keep your attention on the ones that are calving.  If possible throw them in the chute and palpate them.  Check to see how large the pelvis is, and whether the calf is coming normally.  If all is good, and she is dialated let her have the calf herself.  If you put her back in her pen and she doesnt strain at all, then within 1/2 hour, pull the calf.  You have to give nature some chance, but NEVER mess around with a cow/heifer for 4-6 hours +.  This is almost always a sign their is a problem!  
Your biggest problems are going to be those cows that strain and strain for 1/2 to 1 hour and nothing happens, and the first calf heifers that have absolutely no interest in the fact that they are in labour and are running all over the place like a dingbat.
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Offline CAB

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2008, 12:45:33 PM »
Bawndoh, what does the pelvis have to do with the cow/heifer dilating? It's the cows cervix that has to dialate. I would listen to most of the experienced cattle people on this one.

Offline justme

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2008, 01:30:32 PM »
if water is broke more than 45 min. we go in and help.  Were only calving 22 this year and loosing one (no matter how many you have) really hurts.  We probably help more than we should but we would rather have a live calf. 
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Offline kanshow

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2008, 01:43:53 PM »
We err on the side of early - 1/2 hour - 45 minutes with heifers, might wait a little longer with a cow.   We've saved more calves by being early and lost more by being late.   


Offline red

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2008, 01:53:27 PM »
We sort of know by the cow family if we need to pull. I've found that most heifers wear themsleves out the first hour doing nothing & then are too tired to do any good. If a cow is having a big one we will also jump in there. My foreplay family can pass a small truck without any help. Others aren't as good.


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« Last Edit: March 25, 2008, 02:15:19 PM by red »
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Offline kanshow

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2008, 01:56:58 PM »
It sure doesn't hurt to check early on for backwards or legs back too.     Hubby pulled one last night - 2nd calf cow , she was were we could see her from the dinner table too.   She had the calf's head out but all progress had stopped so he went to check and the calf had one leg back and was stuck on the shoulders.    He got her out and she's alive...   

Offline Longway Ranch - SK, Canada

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2008, 02:11:02 PM »
Sorry CAB...I had done a lot of typing in a short ammount of time.  The pelvis has the bump I was talking about, and yes, the cervix does the dialating.  Anyways, if the cervix isnt large enough, you can force them to scrape their head on that bump on the pelvis.  This especially happens with very large calves, or when you pull to early.
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Offline Longway Ranch - SK, Canada

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2008, 02:13:07 PM »
Also, I am not sure what you are implying when you say listen to the experienced people.  Are you considered experienced if you have calved more than 2000 cows?
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Offline CAB

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Re: Pulling calves - how long to wait
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2008, 02:39:39 PM »
2000 otta get'er done, I guess.

 

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