A recent study at the University of British Columbia indicates that cows that experienced difficult calvings (dystocia) spent less time at the feed bunk and drank less water the day before calving than herdmates with normal deliveries.

Cows with dystocia were also more restless. These cows transitioned from standing to lying positions more frequently during the 24-hour period prior to calving than cows without dystocia. The researchers say that dry matter intake and standing bouts in the 24 hours before calving were the most accurate variables to differentiate between the cows with and without dystocia.

Therefore, they suggest, these behaviors may be helpful to identify cows at risk — and offer future areas of study.

The research was published in the October Journal of Dairy Science.