Dec 19

Difficult Calvings – Long term impact

Whilst we all know that calving difficulties (dystocia) result in a greater risk of:

  • Catastrophic bleeding after calving
  • Mastitis
  • Downer cow
  • Held membranes,
  • Uterus infections,
  • and the knock on effects of poor appetite,

the % of cows requiring assistance sits at about 6-8% nationally, but obviously this will vary tremendously when taking into account different suckler and pedigree farms. If a cow needs assistance she has a greater chance of a stillborn calf, but what happens to the calves that we manage to deliver alive? Well, we clean our boots and drive away whistling merrily hoping all will be well, but more frequently than we would all like to admit, it isn’t.


Such calves are:-

  • More likely to receive non-routine treatments such as antibiotics, and

for a longer time too.

  • 3 times more likely to die before weaning
  • Twice as likely to suffer a reduction or complete failure to absorb enough antibody from colostrum.


Getting a big calf alive, without assistance is the aim, but can also be the most difficult thing to achieve. Deciding when to intervene is never easy, but decisions should be made quickly, and we should “crack-on” with caesareans as soon as they are identified and so improve the long term outlook.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tetheravets.co.uk/difficult-calvings-long-term-impact/