In a previous study we could demonstrate that in terms of the required forces alternate traction is preferable to simultaneous traction for the obstetrical delivery of calves. The aims of this study were to examine the required energies for delivery of calves and to compare the effects of the factors of calf and traction method on the forces and energies required for the delivery. In a biomechanical in vitro model 12 stillborn Holstein-Friesian calves were pulled through the pelvic specimen of a cow at a controlled speed using two electric motors. Traction was applied simultaneously (ST) to both legs or alternately (AT) to one leg at a time to advance it 10 cm (AT 10) or 5 cm (AT5). Energies on each limb were measured digitally using load cells. The lowest energy for the entrance of the elbows in the pelvis was necessary using AT10 (19.9 ± 7.2 kJ, P < 0.05). In contrast, for the entrance of the chest, AT10 (104.9 ± 24.7 kJ) demanded 9% (P < 0.01) and 16% (P < 0.001) more energy than AT5 (96.7 ± 21.0 kJ) and ST (90.5 ± 24.9 kJ), respectively. Simultaneous traction tended to be better than AT5 (P = 0.09). Variance component estimates revealed that the factor calf contributed the main effect to the emerging forces and required energy. The traction method was responsible for up to 13% of the variance in most of the cases, but it accounted for 42% of the variance regarding the forces on the lower limb as the chest entered the pelvis. Based on these findings, the decision of the clinician whether or not to perform a manual traction should depend mainly on the calf. However, when such a decision has been made, alternate limb traction, 10 cm at a time, should be used until both elbows have entered the pelvis and a simultaneous traction should then be applied to complete extraction of the chest.