An oxygen bottle is kept next to the maternity area at Calori-D Holsteins in Denair, Calif. — just in case.

It has saved calves’ lives, says Cal Mast, co-owner of the 875-cow facility.

Certain calves — such as those delivered from a backward position with their hind legs and tail presented first — may need a whiff of oxygen at birth. A small oxygen hose is placed from the bottle to one of the calf’s nostrils. “It’s not intended to inflate calves’ lungs or anything like that,” Mast says. “It’s just to provide a little extra oxygen.”

Mast bought an OX 20 (or 20-cubic-foot cylinder) from Airgas, Inc., for about $85. (Refills are $16.)

He says it’s important to have a regulator (costing around $65) on the bottle to control air pressure. 

(To learn how to do this on your farm, go to