Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Retained fetal membranes: removal

Synonym(s): RFM, cleansing

Contributor(s): Ash Phipps , Mike Reynolds

Introduction

  • Retained fetal membranes (RFM) are a common condition of dairy cows.
  • The hormonal processes that are involved in the normal placental separation at parturition is multifactorial and begin before parturition.
  • Membranes are considered to be retained if they do not separate and detach during the third stage of parturition before 12 h post-parturition.
  • Clinical signs generally include membranes protruding from the vulva post-calving or a foul smell present of the caudal end of a recently calved animal.
  • There are many known predisposing factors for retention of fetal membranes and these include; dystocia Dystocia, abortion Abortion and stillbirths: overview, abnormal gestational length, heat stress, uterine inertia, fatty liver Ketosis and fatty liver, failure of placental maturation, twin births, negative energy balance, acetonemia, selenium/vitamin E deficiency and induction of parturition.
  • Cows that develop RFM’s generally have impaired fertility, this may be as a result of further uterine pathology and inadequate timely management.
  • RFM’s should not be attempted to be removed <96 h post-parturition.
  • Prevention is through a thorough and systematic investigation of the known predisposing factors to identify the cause specific to the farm:
    • Short-term measures include blanket treatment with 30-40IU of oxytocin Oxytocin and/or Prostaglandin F2α immediately after calving, however, there is limited data on the benefits for both these treatments.
    • Long term measures include ensuring cows have an adequate transition period: 3-4 weeks prior to calving. This would include a targeted complete transition diet to prepare the cows for lactation.   

Uses

  • Manual intervention to assisted removal of RFM >96 h post-parturition.

Advantages

  • When carried out correctly in the appropriate candidate, it is an effective way of removing the RFM.
  • An easy procedure to carry out.

Disadvantages

  • If excessive traction is applied, uterine trauma can occur.

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Aftercare

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Outcomes

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Prognosis

  • Good: low incidence of complications.
  • Fertility of the affected cow is generally reduced (longer calving to conception interval and lower conception rate)

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Beagley J C, Whitman K J, Baptiste K E & Scherzer J (2010) Physiology and treatment of retained fetal membranes in cattle. J Vet Int Med 24 (2), 261-268 PubMed.
  • Frazer G (2005) A rational basis for therapy in the sick postpartum cow. Vet Clin of North Am Food Anim Pract 21 (2), 523-568 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Parkinson T J, Vermunt J J & Malmo J (2010) Diseases of Cattle in Australasia: A Comprehensive Textbook. New Zealand Veterinary Association Foundation for Continuing Education.
  • Divers T J & Peek S (2007) Rebhun's Diseases of Dairy Cattle. Elsevier, USA.
  • Morten J (2000) The InCalf Project. Progress report No 2. Dairy Research and Development Corporation, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


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