Raising Cattle: Delivering a Calf on the Modern Homestead

A step-by-step guide to the delivery of a calf, including potential problems.

| July/August 1972

  • 016-038-01a
    If complications arise, it may become necessary to intervene in the delivery process.
  • 016-037-01a
    Veterinarian R.J. Holliday explains how to assist a cow in giving birth.
  • 016-039-01a
    Assisting a cow in giving birth is one task that may fall to the modern homesteader.

  • 016-038-01a
  • 016-037-01a
  • 016-039-01a

Click on the Image Gallery link above to see referenced figures. 

Beginning homesteaders usually do pretty well with gardens, chopping wood and building outhouses... but the birth of that first calf or litter of pigs generally sets 'em back a couple of notches. The actual delivery of a calf (indeed, any young animal) invokes at least two factors of a purely mechanical nature. These factors must be understood before any attempt is made to forcibly extract a fetus. Failure to consider them can cause serious crippling or death to the mother and to the offspring, even though, the delivery may actually be accomplished by the excessive application of force. If you are raising cattle on your homestead, an understanding of the birth process will help you assist in the delivery of calves.

Except in some uncommon conditions, the soft tissues of the dam's birth canal can be stretched to accommodate almost and size calf. In similar fashion, the soft tissues of the fetus can be compressed to a considerable degree. Any problem that exists then must be thought of not only as a problem of relative size relationships but, also as a problem of aligning the skeleton of the fetus with the greatest diameter of the pelvic bones off the dam.


Normal Delivery of a Calf


Figure 1 shows the position of the calf shortly before parturition begins. Figure 2 is a simplified side view of a normal pelvis. Note that the opening through the pelvis is slightly tipped. Thus, improperly applied traction forces the path of the fetus to follow line A while the normal path of the fetus should follow the curved path traced by Line B.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me