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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Prepare a calving kit before spring calving season begins

STILLWATER, Oklahoma – It may be the heart of winter but now is the time for cow-calf operators to put together supplies and equipment that will be needed to assist heifers and cows in need of help when spring calving occurs.
Prepare a calving kit before spring calving season begins

A calving kit helps ensure a healthy calf on the ground come calving season. (istock photo)

Before calving season starts, producers should do a walk-through of pens, chutes and calving stalls, according to Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources recommendations.

“Make sure they are clean dry, strong, safe and functioning correctly,” said Glenn Selk, OSU Cooperative Extension emeritus animal scientist and editor of the popular OSU Cow-Calf Corner newsletter. “This is a lot easier to do on a sunny afternoon than a dark night when you need them.”

Selk said cow-calf operators should develop a plan of what to do, when do it, who to call for help – along with phone numbers – and how to know when help is needed.

“All family members and helpers need to be familiar with the plan,” he said. “It may help to write it out and post copies in convenient places. By convenient, we mean places those involved frequently and regularly come into contact with, and talk with your local veterinarian about your protocol and incorporate his or her suggestions.”

Encourage everyone who will be watching and helping cows and heifers this calving season to read OSU Extension Circular E-1006, “Calving Time Management for Beef Cows and Heifers,” available online at or through all OSU Cooperative Extension county offices, typically listed in local directories under “County Government.”

Selk added cow-calf operators should always have the following in their calving kit, so everything is readily accessible and available:
● Disposable obstetrical sleeves;
● Non- irritant antiseptic;
● Lubricant;
● Obstetrical chains (60-inch or two 30-inch chains);
● Two obstetrical handles;
● Mechanical calf pullers;
● Injectable antibiotics; and
● A tincture of iodine solution that can be used to treat navels of newborns shortly after birth.

“Many lubricants can be used, with one of the best being one of the simplest: non detergent soap and warm water,” Selk said. “Don’t forget the simple things like a good flashlight and extra batteries and some old towels or a roll of paper towels.”

Place the calving kit in a well-known location that can be reached by everyone in the operation. Also, locate a plastic tub large enough to immerse the body of a very cold-stressed calf in 100 degree water for an hour.

“Remember that somebody will have to hold the newborn’s head above water so the calf can breathe,” Selk said. “Plan accordingly.”

Oklahoma is the nation’s second-leading producer of beef cows, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service data.


Donald Stotts
DASNR News and Media Relations
Agricultural Communications Services
132 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4079
Fax: 405-744-5739

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078