Calf Cage protects rancher from mad mom

BRANDON — Calving is dangerous.

It’s cold, slippery and often dark, and mama cow doesn’t want anybody touching the newborn.

Producers get hurt every year during calving season, and some years there are fatalities.

However, intervention is necessary if producers want a high survival rate, and the risk of working around a belligerent cow is part of the game.

That risk could be reduced significantly if you could somehow erect an instantaneous corral and then put yourself and the newborn calf on the inside and keep the aggressive cow on the outside.

That’s precisely what Cory Dalzell built.

The producer from Baldur, Man., was at this year’s Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon displaying his invention called the Calf Cage. The small travelling corral is a sturdy steel structure strong enough to keep the rancher and calf safely inside while tending to the newborn.

“A lot of guys now are moving toward calving later in the spring on grass,” he said.

“It’s warmer. There’s more daylight hours. It’s a lot easier. You don’t lose your footing on the ice.

“But there’s still a lot of risk simply because there’s not a lot of people hanging around on the farm anymore. The spouse is at work. Kids are away at school or they’ve moved off the farm. So you’re often alone out there. You don’t want to get rolled over by a cow and then lay there for six hours until help comes. There are fatalities.

“So we pretty well have to assume that calving is a one man operation much of the time. The purpose of the Calf Cage is to protect you from the cow when she’s calving out on grassland pasture. You contain the calf within the portable corral, you jump into the enclosure, then the gate shuts to keep the mother cow outside. Now you do all your processing safely out in the open pasture, protected from the cow.”

The portable cage rides on one tire. The hitch attaches to an all-terrain vehicle so that the cage is pulled along on the ATV’s left side. The front gate is left open as you approach the calf. You just drive the enclosure up to and around the calf.

A foot activated release pedal closes the gate instantly. There’s no need to drag the calf or try moving it.

There’s a narrow opening in the cage so you can jump from the ATV directly into the corral. A shelf inside the cage holds all your supplies. Now you, your supplies and the calf are all safely inside.

“There’s a raised platform within the cage that has it’s own door,” Dalzell said. “You can put the newborn up on this carrying surface and transport it back to the yard or to a different pasture where there’s disease-free clean grass. You let him go out there, then go back and get another one.”

This is Dalzell’s second year producing the Calf Cage and he has sold 20 units. List price is $2,990.

For more information, contact Dalzell at

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