Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Minimizing calving difficulties (Farmer Factsheet)

Contributor(s): XLVets, Vetstream Ltd , Ash Phipps

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  • Calving difficulties (dystocia) contribute heavily to production losses, most obviously due to death of the cow or calf during or soon after birth.
  • Studies from the USA have shown that difficult calvings are four times more likely to yield a dead calf, or a calf which dies within the first 24 hours of life, compared to those born without difficulty.
  • Other losses due to calving difficulties include:
    • Delayed return to heat.
    • Poor conception rates.
    • Subsequent high 'not-in-calf' rates.
    • Extended calving patterns.
    • Increased labor, veterinary and medicine costs.
  • Occasional calving problems are unavoidable. Working to minimize dystocia by careful management and selection of bulls will help to improve calf survival rates and the profitability of your herd.
  • Many factors influence the incidence of dystocia, but broadly they can be split into two groups:
    • Factors affecting calf size and shape.
    • Factors affecting the ability of the cow to give birth.
Image courtesy of Peter Jackson
Normal calving

Factors affecting calf size and shape

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Factors affecting the cow's ability to give birth

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Other points

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Talk to your vet

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