What is normal?
Getting live calves on the ground is critical for successful cattle production.
Interestingly 90% of difficult calvings (dystocias) are due to the calf being relatively oversized for the cow or heifer.
Surprisingly only 5% are due to abnormal presentations and other factors like maternal fatigue, deformities and uterine problems.
Three stages of labour are;
Stage One: the cervix starts to open and uterine contractions become regular, causing signs of discomfort and restlessness. She may get up and down frequently, arch her back and lift her tail. We recommend consulting your veterinarian if a cow has been restless for 12 hours without straining in labour.
Stage Two: begins with the onset of abdominal contractions (straining) and the rupture of foetal membranes (seen as fluid spilling from the vagina). 70 minutes is the average time for this stage, but it ranges from 30 minutes to 4 hours and ends with birth. Heifers normally take longer in stage two than cows.
Stage Three: begins once the calf is born and ends when foetal membranes (afterbirth) have been passed. This may take up to a week. We recommend a veterinary visit if they have not come out after 5 days, or earlier if the animal appears unwell as infections are common.
When do I call the vet?
If a cow has been straining for 1 hour without progress, please consult your veterinarian.
For heifers, you could allow 2 – 3 hours maximum but the sooner you call for assistance, the better the chances of getting a live calf delivered safely.
Our veterinarians are well trained to assist with all calving problems, and will endevour to triage their workload in order to arrive promptly for your obstetrical emergencies.
Call us on 5762 2788 for help - all hours