Managing dystocias, or difficult births, is a daily occurrence in calving season for CVH vets and it’s worth thinking about strategies to minimise the loss of mother, calf or both.
A successful outcome of live cow and live calf relies on early detection and intervention (if required).
If in doubt, please always ring sooner rather than later, and minimise your own efforts at calving the cow or heifer if the presentation of the calf is not straightforward. Here are some golden rules that may help you to make a decision about seeking veterinary advice and/or assistance:
- A cow that is more than an hour into labour will most likely require assistance.
- A heifer that is more than 2 hours into labour will most likely require assistance.
- Pay attention to your herd’s body weight. Pregnant cows and heifers need enough nutrition for themselves and their growing foetus, but overweight, unfit cows and heifers often have more trouble calving.
- A normal presentation for calving is front feet and face coming first – any variation on that is abnormal and should be examined.
- Signs of straining without any presentation almost always indicates a problem. This could be, for example, a breech presentation where only the tail is presented, or an over-sized calf sitting back within the pelvis.
Other problems associated with dystocias
Be aware of uterine prolapse. This normally occurs soon after calving, most often (but not always) after a difficult birth. Prolapses are an emergency. The affected cow or heifer can die of shock unless veterinary assistance is provided as soon as possible.
Crookwell Veterinary Hospital has excellent bovine loading and crush facilities on site. If your calving cow can be transported, it’s cost effective for you if we can treat the cow or heifer at our hospital.