Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
by Dr Rebel Skirving, Gambier Vets, Mt Gambier, SA
The main purpose of the block and tackle is to assist with delivering calves, but they’re also good for lifting the feet of lame cattle. The set-up is 16-millimetre marine grade rope in a block and tackle. For a calving, I attach chains to the calf’s legs, then attach these to the block and tackle.
What’s good about it
Once the block and tackle is attached to the calf and a stationary object behind the cow, I use the mechanical advantage to pull the calf. It supplies gradual force and saves a lot of hard work. It’s also a gentle way to deliver a calf as you get a good feel for how much pressure you can safely apply.
Earlier in my career, I routinely used a calving jack that had a lot of bits and pieces that had to be set up. You had to physically winch back and forth to pull out the calf and it was easy to put too much pressure on the cow or calf. It also gave the cow an opportunity to clout inattentive vets!
The block and tackle is smaller, lighter and easier. It’s gentle on the cow and calf, safer for the vet and it takes up much less space in the back of my car.
One of the reasons I buy ropes from the local boat shop is that they’re marine grade so they’re water-tolerant. I put them through the washing machine after each use and the metal pieces of the block are washed with water and detergent. They all scrub up beautifully.
What’s not so good
The only drawback is that you need an immovable anchor point behind the cow. Normally the cow is in a crush so it’s not a problem. If you happen to be out in a paddock, you need another vehicle to act as the anchor point. It’s also important to have high-tensile clips and attachments—such as D-shackles—because inferior quality ones will break under strain.
Where did you get it
Taylor Marine, Mt Gambier