Calving difficulty has lifelong effects

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A difficult calving not only affects the cow, but also has consequences on the future performance of her calf, according to research from the United Kingdom.

“Our results show clear detrimental effects of a difficult calving on the subsequent reproductive performance of the dam,” say study authors in the November 2011 Journal of Dairy Science. “Furthermore, we show that a difficult calving impairs the subsequent milk production of both the dam and the adult calf.”

According to the results, dams requiring veterinary assistance at calving experienced 0.7 more services to conception, eight more days to first service and a 28-day longer calving interval in the first lactation compared to dams not requiring assistance. The researchers did not detect any effects of calving ease on the reproductive performance of the adult calf during the first lactation.

Calves that experienced a difficult birth went on to produce about 1,566 pounds less milk over a 305-day lactation than calves not requiring assistance. The researchers say the long-term effect of calving ease on the milk production of the adult calf is a new finding to the dairy industry.

Animals subject to dystocia, or a difficult calving, may require post-calving therapeutic care to minimize pain and treat calving-related injuries or illnesses. Use drug therapy as prescribed by your herd veterinarian. Guidelines for using therapeutic agents to treat illness and pain can be found in section VIII of the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association’s Gold Standards III. See section X for guidelines relating to the supportive care of convalescing animals, including those affected by a difficult delivery.

It also is important to follow Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines for handling and administering all medications.

Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) is a voluntary, national certification program intended to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices, which assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products that are harvested from cattle on America’s dairy farms.


Source: Dairy Calf & Heifer Association – Funded by the Beef Checkoff. The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association is the only national association dedicated to serving the dairy calf and heifer industry. For more information about DCHA and the Gold Standards, visit 
www.calfandheifer.org or call 877-HEIFERS.



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