Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Labor Pains.....

There is a problem that can occur when a cow has her baby which is called a prolapsed uterus. This is when the uterus prolapses out as a result of a difficult calving or constant pushing by the mother, even after the calf has been born. It has been happening for as long as we know and the only way to fix it is to carefully push the uterus back into place.

This week the farm vet had a an emergency call for a cow that had prolapsed her uterus. Usually the farmers will make an attempt to fix the problem before they call the vet out and if it is a difficult case, that is when they make the call. The farm vet knows the two dairy farming brothers that called him out. They have been in the business their whole lives and are close to 60 years of age. He knew this was most likely going to be a difficult case as these men are very experienced.

When he arrived the cow was down and continually pushing with her uterus out. One brother was there and told the farm vet she had had a difficult calving. Just to give you an idea of the task at hand, imagine how large a cow's uterus is right after giving birth to a 100 pound calf. The farm vet suited up and gave the cow an epidural. The uterus gets cleaned and then the slow process of pushing it back into place begins. This takes an extreme amount of patience. Patience is one of the key qualities needed for a job like this. The farm vet was pleased to have encouragement from one of the brothers helping him and the other brother consoling the cow, sweet talking her the whole time.

Inch by inch they worked and after about 30 minutes of pushing and maneuvering, the uterus was put back in place. The farm vet checked to make sure it was properly positioned and put one stitch across the vulva to prevent the problem from recurring. When he stood up he realized how exhausted he was and covered in blood and fluid! This is not one of the glamorous moments in the profession but when you see the caring owners and the cow that now has a chance to live it makes it all worth it. The farm vet, tired and mucky, took a moment to watch the mama cow start to lick her new baby. There are these moments which make the profession rewarding. When the farm vet got home he said, "Instead of rushing away, I took a minute to watch the cow with her calf because it really is important to appreciate what has just taken place."


  1. Not a pretty sight, but it happens. I've used the old wives' remedy - sugar - to shrink the uterus before cleaning and working it back in. Does modern veterinary medicine use a shrinking agent other than sugar?

  2. Sally, thanks for the comment. Sugar still does the trick!