Pulling calfs

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i have a question for all you experienced cattle people out there. now i am only 15 years old and i work for a couple people who have beef cows. now i am not clueless on cattle i would actually like to think i know a little. but just yesterday i was with a guy who has a small shorthorn herd and we had a first calf heifer with two hooves sticking out. so we got her in his calvin pen, haltered her and tied her to a gate and we tried to pull. we just assumed that she tried calving, couldnt get it, and quit becuase i know that does happen. well this guy i work for is roughly 80 years old give or take a few years, and we could not pull this calf together and to help the matter the cow was not helping us by pushin at all.i live right next door to this guy and he thought about calling my dad because we used to milk so he knows alot about pulling calves and he has helped him and i pull calves before.my dad was not home so this guy decided to get his tractor and tie the ropes that were tied to the hooves on his tractor and back backwards while i pushed down on the ropes. he also never once checked the calf to 100% make sure it was dialeted completely. to me this does not sound healthy on a cow especially on a first calf heifer. maybe i am clueless but if that calf wouldnt of come out, couldnt of somethin bad happen to the cow. so like i said this may be a stupid question but i would just like your thoughts.

Hey, incase anyone was wondering or even if it matters to anyone i was the one that made this post i just forgot to log in so just incase you were wondering.

Oh, i am sorry i forgot to get to that part. the calf came out fine and it came out just like it should with the two feet and the head but one thing that we didnt do since we used the tractor was push the head down between the legs once it is out a little. i was always tought this because then once the cow gives a push all the fluid out of the lungs come out and thats one thing you do not have to worry about. this guy i work for did not seem to care and maybe that is somethin that is not important but i was taught to do this. but i was back down there again today and the calf is fine and the cow toook care of it and the calf is nursin on the cow so it all seems to be alright. what did u think about what we did though. does that now seem rough on the cow.

Yes, it sounds very rough on the cow. Glad it worked out ok, but you might want to check with a vet about how to do it the next time.
the reason i think that this guy used a tractor is because he is 80 years old, know one can change him mind when it comes to his cows, and thats all there is to it. we have put a comealong on before and that works good and there are other tools you can buy on pulling calfs so it isnt that i do not no how to pull a calf correctly or need to ask a vet on what to do, it is just that this guy is set in his ways so if it is the first thing that he thinks of, thats what he is doing no matter what.

Just remember you can't teach an old dog new tricks. As old as that feller you were helping is...well; he's probably had to do 'extreme' things before. Naw; it's not the best thing to do; but he got lucky & it worked. Chalk it up to a good learning experience for yourself...what not to do unless there is NO other choice.
My Great-Uncle got like that. He was 97 before he left the farm.
When I was growing up, his rule was "If there's been no progress for 15 minutes, pull the calf, otherwise don't interfere". He rarely lost a calf and I never remember a cow being lost.
But in his later years it was like he got impatient. As soon as he could see the hooves, he'd hook the tractor up to the calf and pull it. At the end, he was losing several calves each year and sometimes the cow too.

What people don't take into account is that pulling a calf with a tractor pulls the calf out at the wrong angle and can cause severe damage to the cow. The calf will come easiest if pulled toward the cow's feet, and sometimes a dose of Oxytocin is needed to strengthen the cow's contractions.

As long as your working for this man , help him get in the tractor seat, hook up the chains,and don't get any on you.
I run cattle on a large ranch in Arizona, and alot of times during calving time, you cannot get the cows in a pen to watch them 24 hrs a day so I have came up on alot of cows having trouble. I have pulled them with my hands, pulled with a horse, and the truck. When the hooves are sticking out, it needs to be checked out, because if the calf has died, trying to push out a dead calf can kill the cow. I think at 80 years old this ole boy knows what he is doing. Just a thought.
Hope I can help. First you have to make sure you have the cow caught. Nothing like getting her close and then have her jump the panels and take off on you. Then you get to have all kinds of fun getting her back in where she knows she don't want to go. The key is to keeping her from getting too excited because then she'll forget all about having a calf. Next you have to check the calf and find out why it's not coming out. Maybe the cow's not dialated in which case you turn her loose in the pen and give her some more time. I figure as long as the water doesn't break she's doing all right (within reason of course), and if the water does break I'll give the cow about an hour. One of my best and easiest tricks is to get her up and walk her around the calving yard. I like to think it stretches the muscles a little and the movement gets the calf in the position he should be. Seems like it helps and many cows that maybe worked all morning will calve right away after I do that. Anyway, back to step two. You stick your hand inside and if the cow is dialated you should be feeling the front feet and the nose. Watch the teeth, they're sharp. If that is fine then move further in and see if the rest of the front is all right and whatever else you can feel, try not to tear the bag unless the water's already broke because then it doesn't matter. There's the odd chance that the calf is deformed and can't fit out the hole. Many times it's just the head that is turned to the side or maybe one of the legs is back. Get them straightened out if you can, if not it's a trip to the vet. Sometimes what you are feeling is the backlegs of the calf, that's a trip to the vet unless your an expert at the normal pull. If all is fine then go ahead and pull. We use a special made calf-puller that's paid for itself countless times over. We've found that on the very hard pulls there's a good chance the cow won't clean. A bit of advice I've not had a chance to use yet is to take some calf-scour tablets and put inside the cow to fight infection. If she cleans they'll come right out, if she doesn't then your a step ahead of the infection and probably on your way to the vet anyway. Once the calf comes out I take it around to the front of the cow and let her smell it and lick it, sometimes the cow is hurting so bad if you turn her loose she'll not pick up the calf for quite awhile and then you've got another chore ahead of you. Once she picks up the calf you're basically home free. Sometimes you'll get the knot-head cow that won't let the calf suck or the knot-head calf that can't figure out how to suck. As for that, good luck.
As a dairy farmer in Illinois, I can assure you that hooking a calve up to a tractor and pulling it is probably the most risky way to accomplish the calving process. There are a few stages that take place during calving and it can appear that a first calf heifer probably was tired of the calving or that she was simply taking a break from the process. I have seen many times where a cow or heifer will take several breaks from calving, and in some cases will actually eat or drink while calving. Did the cow look distressed, was she laying down or standing up? Let's face it, cows have been having calves all by themselves for thousands of years, and the first thing people assume is that you MUST pull that calf. We will generally let the cow take her own course. Most people pull the calves as soon as hooves are showing, and thats not usually a good thing. She must be dialiated far enough to physically expel the calf from her opening. Many future problems occur with breeding from pulling calves way to early. You can certainly rip the cows vulva and cause tremendous internal damage also, but lets not forget about the trauma to the calf. Maximum pressure to pull a calf is somewhere in the neighborhood of 150-185 lbs of pressure, never more than 2 adults can physically pull is a good rule of thumb for the max. Breaking the legs of the calf or causing nervous system damage is not uncommon. In your case, if no other help was available, by all means- call a Veterinarian. He or she may have determined that the heifer was not dialated enough to properly calve and in the worst case would have C-Sectioned that baby out. ALWAYS palpate the cow to confirm the position of the calf, is it head first or backwards. Never assume that if you see to hooves coming that the head is there also. Many times they can be head back and coming out in which case is a "so to speak" simple fix by repositioning the head forward, and then allow the cow to continue the course. If no process is made within a half hour, you could give the cow a dose of Oxytocin, usually 10CC or so to allow her to dialate, and more importantly RELAX. Cows like to be alone and relaxed during calving so they can concentrate, yes, concentrate on calving. Bottom line, NEVER force a cow to calve beyond what she cannot physically accomplish herself. If YOU and the COW both relax, and not get into a hurry, you will find that many cows can and will calve all by themselves. Some cows take up to 4-5 hours to calve, and that's ok provided the calf is in the correct position within the birthing canal. If you can see a tongue, pinch it and see if the tongue returns to a normal color or whether it stays a blue-purple color, this a sign of distress. Pulling a calf with a truck or tractor is a sure way of causing more problems than you beg for. You can lose the calf, cow, or both in some cases. You're young and have a lot to learn, I just hope you learn a little from this reply. The biggest thing is to be patient and relax. Cows are very good and sensing anxiety within people, and she is more likely to tense up and go the opposite direction in which you are trying to accomplish.
Lots of posts on calf pulling and real good links provided. Read up on the process and add to your growing knowledge.
Sounds like you already have alot of experience under your belt.
We go by the progress school of thought...as long as you have two hoofs AND a head and the cow is making progress just enjoy the show. A bad presentation or no progress then we step in and give her a hand.
Just my two bits worth....DMc
PINZ, your sure learning a lot of ways to get a calf out. I sure had a lot of trouble with calving, until I selected low birthweight, calving ease bulls, seems to have solved the problem. Seldom do I even assist the heifers now.

In the old days I would do what ever was nessessary to get the calf out. If not you get to the point where your going to lose the calf or both. Ya I've used the pickup, tractor, and a few times the Bobcat. Most of the time successfully.

There have been some very good posts and information in this thread on pulling a calf. Good info provided folks, bravo.

As to the old man, well he did what he thought was necessary. My first pull as a kid came with my old man. Cow down in the middle of a pasture, dad came and got me to help. Now he was a strong feller then but had been raised on a dairy farm and taught by his old man. Anyway, we tried to pull that calf every way you could imagine. My dad had his arms in her up to his shoulders trying to assist her. Well, he finally quit, stepped back, looked at me, looked at her and said "one or both are going to die for sure if we don't do something". He got the tractor and we (as gently as we could) pulled that calf. He was a giant. He lived. The cow lived and all was well. My advice is don't fault the old man. He did what he thought he had to do. We all don't have access to large animal vets on short notice.
As far as we are concerned you can not beat a "calf puller" After pulling our share of calves, we decided to give one a try. After purchasing the puller we had to use it 3 times in one season. Wow what a difference. We will never go back. It is so much easier on us, and way easier (in my opinion) on our cattle. I have seen to many bad things happen with the use of large equipment. Not saying that in a pinch it won't work but we try and avoid it at all costs.
They can not move with the cow nor can you be sure of the amount of pull you are giving.
Just my opinion. I would bet that if you could have gotten a puller on the cow before he got the tractor on he would have found it much easier and might have changed his opinion. It worked with one of our old neightbors.
Hope this helps a little. Best of luck.

Double R
The calf puller was not patented until 1974. I suspect some of the old timers had a version of their own but who knows. I helped pull my first calf in the 60's and even our vet pulled them by hand then.
I guess I'm guilty of using most of methods mentioned in this thread. Before we had a calf puller, when I went to check on the cattle I always had a pocket full of baler twine and a axe handle. When we lived in WVa some of the places them durn cows would go to calve were impossible to get to. If you could get a vet you have to fly him in by helicopter. WE even pulled calf in the middle of a creek one time. Cow and calf done fine. we were soaked but happy. I have found as I get older I'm not as patient as I should be. Don't be in a big hurry. Let mother nature take its coarse.