1 Dead and 1 Alive Twins

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Well-known member
Feb 21, 2008
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Franklin (Middle) Tennessee
We had a cow that had a calf yesterday morning. Left them alone to bond but checked on her a little later on, all was fine. Went to check on them yesterday afternoon and feet hanging out of the cow. We got her up and the calf was coming backwards. She broke the water bag pushing against a gate and when we pulled the calf it was dead. Both full term calfs, of course the one that lived was the smaller one and the one that died was the larger one. Do you think the calf was alive until she broke the water bag pushing against the gate? At least 1 lived.
Not an uncommon thing with twins, for one to be born dead. I say lucky for you anyway!
No, I do not think breaking the water bag had anything to do with the death of the calf. Backwards calf can quickly "drown" during birthing.
Article from Cattlenetwork.com:
In a posterior presentation, "the calf's hips are pulled through the pelvic opening, the baby calf's tail will reach the outer areas of the mother's vaginal opening. Once a person can see the baby calf's tailhead, the umbilical vessels are being compressed against the rim of the mother's pelvic bone. The blood flow, exchanging oxygen & carbon dioxide, between calf and mother is greatly impaired, if not completely clamped off."
"Research conducted in Europe illustrates how little time it takes to compromise the calf's survivbility when the umbilical cord is clamped. These scientists studied the impact of clamping the umbilical cord for 0, 4, 6, or 8 minutes."
0 minutes - 5 calves - all 5 lived
4 minutes - 5 calves - 4 lived, 1 died
6 minutes - 3 calves - 3 died
8 minutes - 3 calves - 3 died

So, you do not have a lot of time to get one out alive once they get up into the birthing canal.
I had an upside down backwards calf last year and the vet said when they come out backwards the cow doesn't go into a full labor. I might have escaped the quick death loss with it upsidedown. He check the cord befor the pull to see if we could twist it around. cord was still attached and he twisted the legs and calf around then out we pulled. Calf didn't have any leg problems which was a good thing. Also had a pair of twins last year and yeah little one lived. This year the same cow had a good healthy heifer calve than about an two hours later she calved a mouse size calf still in the womb. I hate twins. Nothin but a pain for me.
Thank you all for your reply. I just hate to loose one and was wondering if there was something else we could have done to save the other one. Guess not unless you stay with them 24/7. The little one (one that lived) is a live wire! :tiphat:

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