Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday Afternoon "Happy Hour!"

This last Saturday afternoon, about 5pm, a call came in for a cow that was having trouble giving birth to her calf. This cow is from a ranch that supplies beef to consumers. The owner put her in a trailer to bring her to an area that was well lit and clean for the farm vet to check her and do a cesarean section. Most cows are able to give birth naturally without a c-section but in this case the baby was upside down and very large. It was too difficult for her to do unaided.
It was a family affair, with the grandpa, husband and wife, children and even the dog there to watch! The baby calf came out alive and healthy at a whopping 150 lbs! It was a beautiful s
ight and well worth the time and money spent by the owner. The cow and calf are both doing well.


  1. Big baby. Good job momma, good job doc!

  2. Thank you for sharing your life as a vet and vet's wife! What you do is so important to our animals. The love and compassion that you give to our animals along with your knowledge is so appreciated by us. Congratulations on your blog! It is GREAT!

  3. What a wonderful idea guys!! Love the photos! Thanks too for the window into your vet experiences. I look forward to more posts.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement you guys! Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I've been out of town and need to play catch up. New one coming soon...

  5. I wonder, could you tell me how often a cow needs a caesarean? I'm having a discussion about maternal constraint in humans (and by extension other animals) and i feel the view that the mother WILL NOT grow a baby too big to birth seems over-simplistic - my uncle was a vet and i seem to remember him rather often having to help at dystocia's....any stats or studies on this? Someone just cited the 1938 shetlands/shires study, but it doesn't mirror what i've seen in breeding horses i knew as a teen at all... Any help?

  6. Hi Bec, This is a great question... but unfortunately hard to answer!

    First, you need to look at calving difficulty rates in cattle. Heifers typically should be less than 10% and cows less than 3%. Several factors including body weight, age, body condition score, bulls used, etc, have a huge impact on calving difficulty. The veterinarian has several different methods available for dealing with dystocia. Consequently, some veterinarians will perform more c-sections than others. I would google or pubmed "c-section incidence in cattle".

    Horses are very different to cattle. Fetopelvic disparity is very uncommon in horses compared to cattle. This is because fetal size is a measure of uterine capacity and this usually relates closely to pelvic size. Consequently, we see less incidence of dystocia.

    As you can see, dystocia varies by species as well. Hope that is of some help to you. We appreciate your comments and you visiting our blog!

  7. Thanks for such a quick reply! That does help, with humans you'd expect to see true dystocia even less, under 2% of the time (with the majority of those babies fitting through with help, which is a shoulder dystocia, and the others being true cephalo-pelvic disproportion, where the head will not even fit into the pelvic inlet), but c-sections for non-progressing labours are so so common nowadays (and always seem to occur between 9am and 4pm, when most "emergencies" occur in human obstetrics...), somewhere around half of the 28% human c-section rate.

    It's great to hear a veterinary perspective because there is a general myth that "well the animals all give birth just fine!" when i have seen several occasions when that was far from true, including one terrible foaling where the foal had to be removed piece by piece and the mare still died - we were all, vet included, in tears.

    I DO think vets tend to "do" birth better than obstetricians, i suspect most animal labours wouldn't go well with the needles, lights, unfamiliar surroundings, strangers, protocols, clock-watching and loud appeals to "push!" which is "normal" in human obstetric practice!

    Off to google, many thanks!

  8. Thanks also for your insights into the life of a human obstetrician! One of our biggest goals with animals is to make the time around parturition as low stress as possible. Having "loud appeals" of encouragement is often detrimental to the progression of labour. From a veterinary perspective, client education is vital to success.

    Thanks again