Farm vet: Vets expertise is essential when cows are in protracted labour
Calving cows can be a tricky business. Yet Irish farmers are generally skilled and well able to handle most calvings themselves.
This is due in part to increasing levels of education but also obvious economic pressures and cost management. There is however one particular calving case that really should be left to your vet - that of uterine torsion or twisted calf bed.
Early last Friday morning, I was called to a cow that was in for calving. She was well bagged up and had slackened pins. I was told the farmer thought she was going to calve Thursday night but "the interest went off her".
When I examined the cow she was restless, reluctant to lie down, and on vaginal exam I felt a dry tacky vagina with a spiral/corkscrew feel to it.
With lube and gently following the twist with my arm I was able to just about feel the calf's head and neck. I administered 10cc of intravenous Clenbuterol to relax the womb.
Most twists are anti-clockwise and by rotating the calf clockwise I was able to straighten out or undo the twist. Unfortunately the calf was dead, probably due in part to a prolonged labour and also impaired blood supply due to the twist.
If I had been called to the cow and calved her the night before the calf would probably have survived.
The spring can be a tiresome and gruelling time for all involved, including your vet, so tired and less than perfect cow observation will happen. Nonetheless, due vigilance in observing cows' behaviour around calving time must be maintained.