Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


How to Drench a Calf

| Updated August 11, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Medication

  • Halter

  • Nose lead (optional)

  • Drench tube or gun


  • Always follow medication label instructions for dosing rate and meat withdrawal time. Do not administer any medications into the trachea. Make sure you are able to physically handle the calf.


  • A second person to administer the drench will make the process easier. Consult a veterinarian if you have any questions regarding use of medications in livestock. Observe the calf after drenching for signs of coughing or respiratory distress.

Drenching a calf is the process of administering liquids to a calf via the mouth. Livestock producers find this method a quick manner to give medications to a calf. Using drench devices takes less skill than passing a stomach tube through the esophagus and into the stomach. It will take some physical strength to handle the calf during the drenching process.

Read the manufacturer instructions on the drenching device to learn how to properly use it and before attempting to drench the calf.

Prepare the medication for drenching by reading the label on the medication package.

Inspect all equipment for damage. Make sure the halter loops or buckles are well sewn and sturdy. Check the edges of the drenching tool for any sharp edges that may cut the calf's mouth or the operators hands.

Back a newborn or very small calf into a corner of the pen and straddle its neck with your legs. Hold the calf still using your inner thighs and use your non-dominate hand to steady the neck.

Restrain older or larger calves with a halter. Place the halter around the calf's head. Tie the halter to sturdy post next to a barn wall or solid fence. Use an easy-to-untie slip knot in case the calf pulls hard on the halter or struggles. Press the calf's body against the wall with a hip and use your non-dominant hand to control the calves head.

Drive the calf into a chute or head gate if you are using one. If the chute is adjustable squeeze the calf in the chute to calm it down.

Place a nose lead on older calf or use your fingers to grasp the tissue separating the nostrils. This method will help you hold the calf steady as you advance the drench tube. With young or more docile calves, you may be able to control the head by holding the lower jaw alone.

Place your non-dominant hand under the jaw and slightly stretch the calf's neck out and up. Work your thumb in between the jaws in the area immediately behind the front teeth. There are no teeth in this part of the mouth. Be careful not to go too far back where the back molars are located. Firmly squeeze down to make the calf open its jaw slightly.

Insert the tip of the drench gun or drench tube using your the thumb placed in the mouth as a guide. Pass the tip over the back of the tongue being careful not to injure the mouth or the gums.

Slowly administer the medication making sure the calf swallows and does not inhale any of the medication into his trachea (windpipe).