The Importance and Simplicity of Recording an Assisted Calving

It’s that time of year when calving is in full swing for a spring calving herd.  Generally the majority of cows calve quickly and easily without assistance, and a good stockman knows precisely when additional help is needed.  

However experience is only learnt with time, and if assistance is done too early, there is a risk that the cervix and vagina may not be fully dilated, which risks severe trauma to the cow.  Therefore there are a few useful recommendations that may help define when calving assistance is required;

  • For heifers after 5-6 hours after the first signs of abdominal straining, and 3-4hours for cows
  • If calving has not occurred within 3-4hours after the membranes have ruptured
  • If delivery has started and the calf’s feet and nose are visible externally and it is obvious that the presentation is abnormal or that the calf has not been delivered within 30minutes, especially if the cow or heifer is lying down and straining regularly
  • If the nose is present and tongue is swollen assist immediately

At some point every dairy farmer experiences a season where there is an abnormal number of assisted calvings, for one reason and another.  In addition to abnormal positions of the calf, the factors which can lead to an increased incident of difficult births are:

  • Breed of bulls
  • An individual bull within a breed producing large calves
  • Heifers have more problems than cows
  • Male calves are larger than female calves
  • Maiden heifers underweight at service
  • Heifers over fat at calving (>3.5)
  • Older heifers (3year olds)
  • Management and stockmanship

Whilst calving time is hectic and the management of the day to day chores is time consuming, taking a small amount of time to record any animal which has had a difficult calving can provide vital information which can help identify trends and causes of such problems, as well as provide timely reminders to follow-up these animals. 

Smart Farm Apps – Pro Dairy Event app can be used to make note of any such animal to aid in following-up these animals prior to mating.  

This is important due to the increased risk of infection in the reproductive tract associated with an assisted calving and its potential impact on the herd’s reproductive performance if not dealt with accordingly.  

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