How do we use a calf puller in agriculture


Use the rod on the puller as a lever and as a pulley, after the calf’s head emerges. After the slack is taken out of the chain, Alley recommends that the puller be slowly moved toward the cow’s feet, working with the cow as she strains. Then move it back up while taking up slack gained with this leverage action.


How do you use a calf puller?

There are several ideas about how best to use a calf puller. Some veterinarians advise keeping the rod straight out from the back of the cow, in line with her spine and never moving it downward. Others recommend using it as a lever as well as a pulley, after the calf’s head emerges from the vulva.

What is the best tool for holding a calf during labor?

“A calf jack is the best tool for holding the calf at the point it is in the birth process. I use it to hold (and not lose ground). A calf jack can be detrimental if you just continue to crank,” Miesner says.

How do you use a mechanical leg puller?

The mechanical puller puts enough force on the leg to pull joints apart or fracture bones. Put one loop above the fetlock joint and a second loop (half hitch) below it, for two points of pull, spreading the pressure so it doesn’t all come in one place — or blood flow may be completely cut off.

Do you need a mechanical calf puller for dystocia?

In most cases of dystocia, the calf can be pulled by hand. There are some instances, however, when a mechanical calf puller is needed during calving. Producers should have three goals when providing calving assistance, says Matt Miesner, Kansas State University DVM:


Can you pull a cow when it strains?

Never apply a steady maximum pull. It’s best to pull only when the cow strains, and rest (or stop cranking the calf jack) while she rests. One study showed a calf jack can give a couple of thousands pounds of pull, whereas two men can give about 400 pounds of pull.

Can you pull a calf by hand?

Most calves can be pulled by hand after correcting any abnormal position, but occasionally a mechanical calf puller (“calf jack”) is needed. It is important to determine whether the calf can be safely pulled, or should be delivered by C-section.


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Step 1

Before we start trying to help the cow or heifer that is in trouble we need to make sure that she will not be able to have the calf by herself. It is very hard on the animal if a calf is pulled that she could have birthed unassisted; it is always a waste of time for the handler as well.

Step 2

Prior to assisting in the birth, there has to be the correct materials and somewhere to put the calf and its momma, this includes having a calf chain to wrap around the calf’s feet, a puller, a rag to and to wipe our hands as it can get kind of messy, and a bottle and nipple to start the calf if needed.

Step 3

Now that all the materials have been gathered, there should be a clean dry and warm place to put the pair. Usually, it is best to put them straight into the head catch. Most calving barns have head catches in one stall. This is where we will catch the cow’s head to help her give birth.

Step 4

Once she is in the barn and her head is caught the best thing is to have a gate or panel leaned against both sides so she can’t swing her behind side to side. We also want to stand slightly to the left or right to prevent from being kicked.

Animal Health with Roy Lewis: It is a useful tool when needed, but it can also be misused

In dealing with a breech birth, this photo shows the proper position of the calf puller, and chains properly attached to the calf’s legs. Photo: Roy Lewis

Keep it clean

The puller should be well cleaned and disinfected after usage so infectious organisms are not transmitted between calvings. Many of the pullers I see are rather grungy from fetal fluids, placenta, or manure is allowed to freeze or dry onto the puller. Keep them like you would a kitchen utensil and clean often.

A real lifesaver

The puller can be a real lifesaver when the calf appears stuck at the hips (farmers refer to this as hiplock) although seldom is this usually true — it is just tight or in rare occasions it is the stifle that is locked. Relaxing and rotating the calf slightly may alleviate this issue.

About the author

Roy Lewis is an Alberta-based veterinarian specializing in large-animal practice. He is also a part-time technical services vet for Merck Animal Health.


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