Calving Management


Calving facilities need to incorporate wind protection and ample bedding for calves. Calves are born wet and can get chilled very rapidly in windy or wet conditions. However, since neonatal calves are susceptible to many diseases, bedding areas should be cleaned frequently to decrease pathogen buildup.

Restraint Systems

The best system for restraining a cow during calving is a headgate that has parallel sides and side gates that swing away. Cows will commonly lie down while you are trying to pull the calf and could become stuck or injured in a squeeze chute or alley way. Avoid the use of V-shaped or scissor-style headgates for calving as they may choke the cow if she lies down. Having both side gates able to swing open allows plenty of room to work no matter which side the cow lays down on. Additionally, make sure that gates are long enough to allow you to keep the calf puller on the cow as she lies down and still manipulate the calf puller in the needed direction.

Calving area

Clean dry calving area

Be careful of pathogen buildup.
Image credit: Grant Dewell

Head gate

Calving facility

Head gate with two, 12-foot swinging gates and a C-section gate.
Image credit: Grant Dewell

Grant Dewell Renée Dewell Katy Lippolis

Associate Professor
Vet Diagnostic & Production Animal Med

Veterinary Specialist
Center for Food Security/Public Health