Calving tips
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Calving tips - Totally Vets

Calving tipsGreta BaynesTotally VetsAugust 2010

Calving basics• 1st Stage labour:• calf positions itself for birth• cervix dilates (relaxes)• cow restless, uncomfortable, separatesfrom mob• tail in air• lasts 2-6 hrs; longer in heifers

2nd Stage labour:• cow gets down (usually), pushes & deliverscalf• passing & rupture of waterbag (placenta)• should last NO longer than 2 hrs from whenwaters break• Entire stage lasts from 30min – 4hr ave 70min3rd Stage labour:• passing of placenta (30 mins to 6-8 hrs)

When to intervene• 1 st stage >6 hrs – cow continues to lookuncomfortable w/o presenting;• 2nd stage >2 hrs – forceful pushing butmaking minimal/no progress•

Calving Emergencies• Calf or cow valuable?– Yes: best to CALL THE VET– No: continue the examination• Bucket of clean water withdisinfectant– Clean the vulva– Clean arms (and wear gloves)– Clean your chains (or ropes)• Use plenty of lubricant

Calving Emergencies• Step One: examine the vagina– normal•smooth walled, wide diameter– abnormal•rips and tears•twisted uterus•CALL VET

Calving Emergencies• Step Two: examine the cervix– Unable to detect cervix•fully open– Fold with frilled edge•partially open recheck in 2 hours– Uncertain of normal/abnormal•CALL VET for diagnosis•could be too early or twisted uterus

Calving Emergencies• Step Three: is the calf alive?• Finger in mouth• Pinch between the toes• Gentle pressure on eye– Dead Calf• is the cow healthy?– Healthy: continue to calve her– sick cow: CALL THE VET• bad smell CALL THE VET• Calf swollen & unlikely to fit CALL THE VET– Alive• continue to calve the cow

Calving Emergencies• Step Four: How is the calfpresented?– Head first presentation– head and two legs– ideal presentation– OK to apply traction– LUBE

Ropes/chains• Points of traction• How much traction– NOT THE TRACTOR– NOT THE BIKE– NOT THE FENCING STRAINERS– Man strength; calving jack; pulley – usewith care can still cause damage

Chain placement

Chain placement

Head chain placement

Position of head relative to legs

Calving Emergencies• Step Four: How is the calfpresented?– Head first presentations - abnormal:• leg back• head back• head and 2 legs but no response totractionTEN MINUTE RULE – If you make noprogress in ten minutes, stop and callthe vet

Determine what’s what

Determine what’s what

Normal vs abnormal• Tail & 2 back legs

Normal vs abnormal• Breech

Abnormal• Head back• Dog sitting

• leg back

Normal vs abnormal• Twins• Dead & swollen/rotten• Abnormal– Twisted uterus– Deformed calves– No idea?• Size – will calf fit through?

Prolapsed uterus– immediate vetattention– until vet arrives•keep cow quiet,not moving•sit cow upright ifcow is ‘down’•keep uterusclean•give Ca underthe skin

Retained membranes• Retained if not passed in 24hr• Difficult calving/assisted/twins• Milk fever• Low Se• If cow well, leave for a week. Mayresolve by itself• If cow unwell, needs treatment as canbecome toxic

Down cows1. Calving (twins!)2. Mastitis3. Calving paralysis4. Infected uterus (often from retainedplacenta)5. Metabolic disease1. Milk fever = low calcium2. Grass staggers = low magnesium3. Ketosis = energy deficiency6. Dislocated hips

Caring for downer cows• DO NOT LEAVE ON SIDE!– Cannot burp, rumen fills with gas, pushesagainst lungs, cannot breathe effectively,can die– Sit upright (prop up with haybale/bike)• Shelter, cow cover• Fresh water• Food• Roll from side to side• Hip clamps (do not leave on >10min)• Slings (we have some to lend out)

Milk fever = low Ca• Calving - + 10d• Older cows• Often due to low mag• Dopey, weak, wobbly, down, reducedresponsiveness• treat slowly and carefully with:

Grass staggers = low Mg• Calving - +4-6 wk• Lush spring grass low in Mg• Mg required for Ca regulation• Nervous, twitchy, stagger, down,thrashing

Treatment• Products containing Ca & Mg available– Under skin or into vein – take care if intovein, can cause heart attacks if given toofast or too much– Oral products + energy• reassess/retreat/call vet if cow NOT upwithin 3 – 4 hours.

Prevention• Mag supplementation for severalweeks prior to calving and throughcalving• Feed well

Mastitis• Swollen, hot quarter• May appear lame• Can become unwell if bugs spreadthrough bloode• Injectable treatments available• Early detection and treatment -> bestoutcome

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