Problem pregnancy ??

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Anonymous

Other than sticking my arm up her butt(or getting the vet to do so!) is there any way to visually and/or manually determine if a cow is likely to have a problem delivery due to a breech positioned calf? Like for instance, if she is bagged up for what seems to be an excessive period of time, could that be an indication that something is "hung up" ?

I lost a big heifer a few years ago, that was very large in the belly and stayed very bagged up for what seemed like well over a month. I kept thinking that she would calve "any day now" but that lasted for weeks. But I never saw her standing or walking "funny", not hunched up or anything. Then I noticed her missing one day and assumed she finally went off to have her calf. Found her dead a few days later with a calf about a third of the way out of her, back legs first.

Now I'm worried that one of my cows may be in a similar situation. She looks bigger in the belly than she has for past pregnancies (looks like a hippo!) and although she has only begun to "bag" a little at this time, I'd like to know if I have a potential problem if, for example, she stays bagged up for what seems to be too long a period of time.

I've never palpated a cow, but I guess with a late stage preg. it should be pretty easy to tell if the positioning was right or wrong, and I don't suppose I could do any real damage to a late stage calf -- but I'm rather embarassed to admit that I'm too intimidated by the whole procedure to give it a try at this time. Is there a little less "invasive" method?
 
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A

Anonymous

You can't tell the position of the calf by the size of the cow's belly.

Some cows/heifers bag up a month or more before delivering and some bag up when they calve.

I can't remember at what point the calf moves into position for delivery. Maybe Vicky would be so kind as to help answer this one.

If you can, bring the cow up where you can check her several times a day & night. If you do so, you are more likely to see when her mucous plug is released and you are more likely to see when she goes into labor.

Personally, I would have gone on an immediate search for the cow you came up missing. I would not have waited "several days" and had her die in agony. At the least, you could probably have saved the cow, and quite possibly, had you been closely observing the cow, you might have saved the calf.

Talk to your veterinarian. Ask questions. Pay for the knowledge and experience your veterinarian posseses and went to school for umpteen years to acquire. The more open you are to learning, the more you are going to learn. Learn from the expert.

I would not do an exam at this point unless you were very experienced. I know cows are examined rectally all the time, but there is the potential for an inexperienced person to do internal damage to the cow. I believe the calf, at this stage, may be well down into the abdomen, unless calving is in progress. I don't believe you could easily tell the position ahead of time.

If you're willing to pay for an ultrasound, that's the only relatively non invasive method that comes to mind, and I don't know if that would work at this state of pregnancy.

We had a Murray Grey cow that just got bigger and bigger with every pregnancy. Talk about looking like a hippo!! However, she calved easily each and every time and all of her calves were in the 60# range.

> Other than sticking my arm up her
> butt(or getting the vet to do so!)
> is there any way to visually
> and/or manually determine if a cow
> is likely to have a problem
> delivery due to a breech
> positioned calf? Like for
> instance, if she is bagged up for
> what seems to be an excessive
> period of time, could that be an
> indication that something is
> "hung up" ?

> I lost a big heifer a few years
> ago, that was very large in the
> belly and stayed very bagged up
> for what seemed like well over a
> month. I kept thinking that she
> would calve "any day
> now" but that lasted for
> weeks. But I never saw her
> standing or walking
> "funny", not hunched up
> or anything. Then I noticed her
> missing one day and assumed she
> finally went off to have her calf.
> Found her dead a few days later
> with a calf about a third of the
> way out of her, back legs first.

> Now I'm worried that one of my
> cows may be in a similar
> situation. She looks bigger in the
> belly than she has for past
> pregnancies (looks like a hippo!)
> and although she has only begun to
> "bag" a little at this
> time, I'd like to know if I have a
> potential problem if, for example,
> she stays bagged up for what seems
> to be too long a period of time.

> I've never palpated a cow, but I
> guess with a late stage preg. it
> should be pretty easy to tell if
> the positioning was right or
> wrong, and I don't suppose I could
> do any real damage to a late stage
> calf -- but I'm rather embarassed
> to admit that I'm too intimidated
> by the whole procedure to give it
> a try at this time. Is there a
> little less "invasive"
> method?
 
OP
A

Anonymous

i agree with linda... another thing.. nearly every cow will go off to themselves when it is their time to calve... that is when i start paying close attention to see how she is coming... personally, if she hasnt had her calf in say 6-8 hours, i want to get her up and check her... cant tell you how accurate what i do is, but that is how i do it... i have a regular job to support my cattle habit and i have to work these things out the best i can, time allowing... maybe someone with better experience/knowledge can shed more light on this for you..

good luck

gene

> Other than sticking my arm up her
> butt(or getting the vet to do so!)
> is there any way to visually
> and/or manually determine if a cow
> is likely to have a problem
> delivery due to a breech
> positioned calf? Like for
> instance, if she is bagged up for
> what seems to be an excessive
> period of time, could that be an
> indication that something is
> "hung up" ?

> I lost a big heifer a few years
> ago, that was very large in the
> belly and stayed very bagged up
> for what seemed like well over a
> month. I kept thinking that she
> would calve "any day
> now" but that lasted for
> weeks. But I never saw her
> standing or walking
> "funny", not hunched up
> or anything. Then I noticed her
> missing one day and assumed she
> finally went off to have her calf.
> Found her dead a few days later
> with a calf about a third of the
> way out of her, back legs first.

> Now I'm worried that one of my
> cows may be in a similar
> situation. She looks bigger in the
> belly than she has for past
> pregnancies (looks like a hippo!)
> and although she has only begun to
> "bag" a little at this
> time, I'd like to know if I have a
> potential problem if, for example,
> she stays bagged up for what seems
> to be too long a period of time.

> I've never palpated a cow, but I
> guess with a late stage preg. it
> should be pretty easy to tell if
> the positioning was right or
> wrong, and I don't suppose I could
> do any real damage to a late stage
> calf -- but I'm rather embarassed
> to admit that I'm too intimidated
> by the whole procedure to give it
> a try at this time. Is there a
> little less "invasive"
> method?

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Anonymous

For the most part I agree with Linda's comments. I have lost a few over the years in circumstances like what you described (cow turns up missing, etc.) and know that it can be most disheartening. Sometimes you can do something about it and sometimes not.

IF you live on your ranch or farm and don't have another job then you can probably do as Linda suggests. And if so, consider a birthing pasture of several acres in size so you can monitor several times a day the cows that you think are about ready to dominoe, without having to wander all over creation. Otherwise there's sometimes precious little you can do to prevent a cow with a delivery problem from wandering off and maybe dying in agony unless you just happen to be there at the right time -- it's just a part of nature's plan in my view.

I've been raising cattle for a fair number of years and have learned a little along the way, but have a long way to go yet. I live a fair distance from my cows and depending on Houston traffic I'm at least one full hour away, sometimes two hours! I sure as hell can't leave my "regular" job and make that trip more than about twice a week to feed, inspect the cows, monitor pregnancies, etc. In winter I go to my place to feed round bales on Wed. & Sat. Once I had one turn up missing on a Wed. evening and I looked for her until dark and then headed for home. It takes a LONG time to thoroughly search several hundred acres of land with some pasture, woods, brush, etc.! Well, upon my return on Saturday I continued my search and found her dead. But under the circumstances I did about all I could reasonably do. I don't have a caretaker living on the place, either.

But there are a few other practical suggestions (at least in my view) that I may offer to you, especially if you are a relative newcomer, or perhaps a "weekender" such as myself. Resist the temptation to hold back nice looking heifers for herd expansion. Many times they get bred too soon and are not physically developed enough to reliably be free of birthing problems. Many people feel it's cheaper to buy replacements. And don't buy "first calf heifers" either. Whether you raise or buy them getting past that first calving is the biggest hurdle. So I'd buy second or third calf cows, or maybe some "three in ones" And give a lot of thought and/or research into your bull selection. Don't try to "push the envelope" for calf size by using high birthweight bulls regardless of the breed you choose. It is a helluva lot better to have calves that are born small & alive than big dead ones! Others may disagree with me on this, but I think for a beginner or weekender you should stay away from Charolais bulls altogether, and I've also seen a good number of Simmental bulls (and their progeny) that I'd be concerned about having in with my cows. If you have big, older cows or maybe even have had a vet out to do some pelvic measurements maybe the bull selection is not as big of an issue as I make it out to be.
 
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