How to Properly Use a Calf Jack
Calf jacks can be an invaluable tool for producers, yet improper use could prove dangerous for both animals and producers alike. Here are a few tips for effective calf jack usage.
Before using a calf jack, it is crucial to double-hitch chains so as to apply maximum force along the strongest part and angle of your leg bone for optimal results and to prevent injury.
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In most cases, calves require assistance when they’re born. This could happen due to factors like being too big for its mother’s pelvis or an abnormality with position of birth.
Calf jacks are mechanical devices used to assist in the process of calving. They use traction to gently pull the calf out from its birth canal, but may also be utilized in helping treat other forms of dystocia or related obstetrical issues.
Alley advises ranchers never to apply more force than two strong people can exert with their hands pulling the calf, and timing their efforts with its contractions for optimal results. This will help both cow and calf avoid complications, including broken legs due to mama trauma or injuries sustained from calves during birthing.
Most cases of dystocia during calving can be handled manually, while at times an electric calf puller, or “calf jack”, may be needed. According to Mark Alley, DVM, clinical assistant instructor of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, using a calf jack properly can be an effective tool. He recommends having long plastic gloves ready and having some form of lubricant such as OB lube on hand ready.
First, ensure there is plenty of space behind the cow for two people to work comfortably. Next, apply gentle traction on the front legs of the calf in a pivoting motion to help it pass over its pelvic brim and into its birth canal – no more force should be applied than what two strong men could exert manually by pulling.
Calf pullers may seem like simple tools, but improper use can be dangerous. Proper techniques must be adhered to in order to preserve reproductive soundness of dams as well as avoid injuries to calves.
Alley advises using chains on the cow’s feet to encourage her to strain before laying her down before positioning the calf puller. This reduces the likelihood of vaginal and uterine lacerations for mother as well as leg injuries for her calf.
Once the calf’s head has been extracted, Dr. Barlow recommends applying lubrication to its legs and searching for each to make sure they have come up over the pelvic brim. A reasonable amount of traction, preferably two adults pulling steadily on calving ropes with no jerking motion should also be employed – or use an adjustable ratchet-style calf jack with dual action pulls that can alternately shift pressure between legs can also help.
Farmers often bring cows to Jacks before their expected due dates for ease of delivery, feeding the expectant mother 35 pounds of feed plus hay daily for two days prior to her due date and checking progress every hour; should delivery prove complicated they assist the cow in labor if required or refer it on to a veterinarian if labor becomes complicated.
Ratchet-type jack with three separate hooks. When placing one chain on each of the side hooks, a zig-zag motion is created that helps calve to walk out with less strain on animal. Meanwhile, central hook is for head pulling or simultaneous pull on both legs; pressure can be released by moving jacks backwards.