Calving Supplies Checklist

When it comes to the birth of new calves, things sometimes go differently than planned. From difficult labor and delivery to dealing with sick, cold newborns, when you’re expecting a pregnant cow to give birth, you need to be prepared for any scenario. Make sure your calving kit is fully stocked and ready to go prior to the due date of the first calf so that even if it’s born early, you’ll be prepared. Our calving supply checklist is a great guide to help you make sure you have everything you need this calving season!

Veterinarian Contact Information

If you plan to own and breed cattle, you’ll want to make sure you know who your local farm veterinarian is and keep their contact information on file in case of an emergency. It’s not uncommon for a cow to require assistance to deliver her calf; however, sometimes, if the farmer cannot get the calf out, a veterinarian must be called to the farm to perform emergency measures. 

Notebook & Pencil

Keep a detailed record of important information, including breeding and due dates, so you have a rough idea of when to expect calves. Record newborn calves’ birth date, sex, birth weight, and any additional information such as the ID numbers of each cow and calf pair, whether or not a bull calf has been castrated, and any health issues noticed.

Calving Pen

Calving areas should be sheltered from cold weather, have clean straw or shavings for bedding, and ideally have a functional chute in case of emergencies requiring medical intervention. Make sure your calving pen has adequate lighting and keep a flashlight close by in case you need to inspect a cow or calf. Stock up on dust-free chopped straw or wood shavings at your local Feeds ‘n Needs.

Heating & Drying Sources

Since they are born covered in amniotic fluid, calves must be quickly dried and warmed up after birth to prevent them from developing hypothermia. A cow should be allowed to lick her calf clean after delivery; however, in cases of cold weather or if the mother does not clean her baby, have towels and blankets ready to dry the calf off and stimulate blood circulation. If a newborn gets chilled, have a warming box or other heat source like hair dryers and heat lamps ready to use to get the calf warm. Use a thermometer to keep track of calves’ temperatures, especially if they are sick or hypothermic. Always sterilize thermometers after use.

Gloves & OB Lubricant

Keep boxes of long and short disposable gloves to protect you and your animals from bacteria entering the body, and always change gloves between working with different animals. If a cow requires assistance delivering her calf, have lots of regular obstetrical lubricant on hand to lubricate the birth canal and your gloved arms to reduce friction and swelling. If your cow may require a C-section, avoid using J-lube to try and get the calf out, as it is toxic to the peritoneal cavity and will be fatal to the cow.

Halter, Rope & OB Chains

Ensure you have clean OB chains and handles ready in case you have to intervene and assist a cow during delivery. Additionally, have a halter and long rope prepared for laying down a cow to make delivery easier. 


A 7% iodine solution or chlorhexidine should be used to dip the calf’s navel after birth to keep it clean and disinfected. Additionally, you can add these disinfectants to a bucket or squeeze bottle of water to create wash water for cleaning the cow after delivery. Roll cotton soaked in this disinfectant water also works well to wash the cow.

Colostrum & Milk Replacer

The colostrum, or “first milk” a pregnant cow produces, is rich with antibodies and nutrients, which are vital for her calf to receive in the first 4 to 6 hours after birth. Calves should be standing and nursing on their own within 1 hour. Otherwise, you may need to intervene. If you are worried that a calf is not getting colostrum, or if you have a calf too weak to nurse on their own, frozen colostrum or dried colostrum mixed with warm water should be readily available to administer to the calf. Colostrum replacer products should contain a minimum of 100g of lgG per dose. Keep powdered milk replacer on hand for calves that will be bottle fed. Trust Feeds ‘n Needs to provide you with the best quality powdered colostrum and milk replacers to help your calves grow and thrive.

Feeding Supplies

A flexible stomach feeding tube and large syringe may need to be used to administer colostrum to weak or sick calves that are unable to suckle. Be sure to sterilize supplies between calves or keep a second stomach tube on hand to feed sick calves only. Additionally, keep bottle feeding supplies like calf bottles and extra nipples on hand to bottle feed calves that are stronger and able to suckle.

Needles & Syringes

Keep an assortment of sterile needles and syringes in your calving kit for administering supplements, vaccines, antibiotics, or other medications as per your veterinarian’s recommendation. 

Use a bulb syringe to suction amniotic fluid out of newborn’s noses so they can breathe.

Injectables & Supplements

Administering supplements of the vitamins A, D, E, and selenium, as well as a mix of electrolytes for calves, is recommended for newborns. Our experts recommend the AVL Vitaferst-Care oral neonatal supplement for ruminants to give your calves the best start at life. Medications and vaccinations can be administered as per your veterinarian’s recommendation. Additionally, it’s always beneficial to keep scour pills or a prevention solution on hand in the event a calf develops scours and requires immediate treatment. If you do not have access to scour pills from your vet, we recommend administering Calf Renova at the first signs of diarrhea or Calf Perk to get a cold, weak calf to its feet after birth. Ask your local Feeds’ n Needs experts about product availability. 

ID Equipment

Each head of cattle in Canada is required to have a registered CCIA tag before being transported from their farm of origin. These can be bought from an authorized dealer like your local Feeds ‘n Needs store. In addition to CCIA tags, you may want to tag your cattle with an on-farm ID tag, which should be done within the first few days of a calf’s life as cows sometimes swap calves, making future genetic selections inaccurate if calves were not tagged at birth. If you plan to give your calves tattooed ID numbers, ensure all your equipment is clean and in good working order.

Elastrator Rings & Tool

If you plan on castrating bull calves, you will need to make sure you have elastrator rings and the proper elastrator tool. Castration of bull calves is typically done between 1 week and 5 months of age. Be sure to record which calves are being castrated and which are not.

When it comes to calving, expect the unexpected and always be prepared. Stop by your local Feeds ‘n Needs to pick up some essential calving kit items so that you’ll be ready when the first calf arrives!


Disclaimer: Feeds ‘n Needs is not qualified to give medical advice or recommendations; please consult your veterinarian for any concerns, vaccine recommendations, etc. 

Feeds'n Needs Team